IU study makes case for smoking ban expansion

Indianapolis – Researchers at Indiana University say secondhand smoke costs every Marion County resident $54 a year. They say it’s a health risk too costly to ignore.

The debate over expanding Marion County’s smoking ban to all workplaces – including bars and smoking establishments that currently allow smoking – boils down to individual rights vs. public health.

When Jarron Carter smokes, those around him at the city park get a whiff too. When someone smokes at a bar, the contents of that cigarette are shared with workers and customers.

An expanded ban on smoking would apply to all bars, clubs and bowling alleys in Marion County. Smokers are outraged at the idea “because if you can drink a beer you should be able to smoke a cigarette,” argued Chris Matzenbacher.

But IU researchers say that right costs Marion County $47.5 million a year. Doctors says it causes a myriad of health issues.

Dr. Greg Larkin with the Indiana Health Information Exchange says research shows non-smokers who are routinely exposed to secondhand smoke face increased heart attack and cancer rates, as well as an increased risk for upper respiratory infections.

Right now, the City-County Council is reviewing a proposal that would restrict smoking in Marion County workplaces. If passed, it would impact about 400 Marion County businesses.

While not wanting to predict how his peers will vote, the bill’s co-sponsor points out 27 states already have statewide bans.

“When you look at how much of the country, how many people who live in the country and may move to Indianapolis that may come with a job or may come for a job, more than 70 percent of those folks are already under a ban,” said Councilor Brian Mahern.

So far 11 Indiana municipalities have smoke-free ordinances in place.

“This is more about health. We have people that are exposed to indisputable cancer-causing agents and as Indianapolis we need to move that forward if we are going to be truly going to be a life science industry hub,” said Councilor Ben Hunter, co-sponsor.

The proposal includes exemptions for cigar and hooka bars, businesses whose profit model is built around smoking.

The smoke-free proposition goes before the full council on Monday, October 26th.

source: http://www.wthr.com

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