A local group is pushing to pass laws that will end smoking in bars and dictate where people can smoke outside.
Shelley Courington is with a group called CHART. They’re about to start lobbying state lawmakers to ban smoking in bars. They’re also pushing to keep smokers from lighting up within 25 feet of a building.
“We have to have a healthy safe workforce in Tennessee. We have to make it safe for our workers, no matter what,” said Courington.
There’s obvious resistance to the idea, but CHART claims they have new data from the Institute of Medicine. It shows when you reduce exposure to second hand smoke, you directly reduce your heart attack and stroke rates.
The study also found in states where smoking bans are in effect, heart attack rates dropped 40 percent.
CHART said they are looking to new laws to keep people healthy, especially at a time when state funding for smoking cessation programs has dramatically dropped.
“The fact is we are dead last when it comes to how much we put aside for cessation funding,” said Courtington.
Tennessee used to spend $5 million on stop smoking programs, but because of budget cuts that number is down to $200,000.
The health department said since smoking was banned in Tennessee restaurants a few years ago, the number of smokers in Tennessee has dropped 1 percent.
State lawmakers will start debating the smoking ban issue when they head back into session in January.
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