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home : most recent : howard January 17, 2019

11/13/2018 5:12:00 PM
EDITORIAL: Follow our lead, Indiana

Kokomo Tribune

It was only a year ago in July that smokers who patronize bars, taverns and private clubs in Howard County began stepping outside before lighting up.

The county-wide smoking ban, which was passed March 6, 2017, by both the Howard County commissioners and Kokomo Common Council, took effect July 1 that same year.

It was the culmination of a years-long local battle to place constraints on local smokers in public places. In 2014, the common council left exceptions in the city to allow for smoking to continue in certain locations. The 2017 legislation brought those outliers in line. Now, bars, taverns and social clubs are included in the ban. E-cigarettes also are included.

The city itself had been attempting to tackle this problem for more than a decade, with resistance from business owners where smoking was allowed.

The reasons for banning smoking in such establishments should be self-evident today. And even if you aren’t too concerned about your own health, the lives of other patrons and those trying to earn a living in the county’s bars and private clubs should be worth preserving. As Commissioner Paul Wyman pointed out, Howard County is listed in the bottom half of health rankings for Indiana’s 92 counties.

Local smokers should consider giving up cigarettes for Thursday’s observance of the Great American SmokeOut.

But statewide we’re not doing much better.

“In Indiana, 26.0 percent of the adult population (aged 18-plus years) — over 1,247,000 individuals — are current cigarette smokers,” according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Across all states, the prevalence of cigarette smoking among adults ranges from 9.3 percent to 26.5 percent. Indiana ranks 50th among the states.”

E-cigarettes are included in this ban along with traditional cigarettes and cigars. The science behind the safety of these devices is still new, but it’s clear that even though they may be less harmful than cigarettes in some ways, they may still be quite damaging in others.

“We don’t presently know what is in e-cigarettes,”according to the American Lung Association. “However, in initial lab tests conducted in 2009 the FDA found detectable levels of toxic cancer-causing chemicals, including an ingredient used in anti-freeze, in two leading brands of e-cigarettes and 18 various cartridges.”

The commissioners and Kokomo city council did the right thing in 2017 by passing the county-wide smoking ban. Indiana’s state Legislature would do well to follow their lead in the upcoming 2019 session.

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