Smoke-free ordinance vital for a healthier Augusta

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Tobacco use remains the No. 1 preventable cause of disease and death in the United States, resulting in more than 430,000 deaths a year from personal use and more than 50,000 deaths annually from secondhand smoke exposure.

Additionally, in recent years, the surgeon general determined there is no safe level of exposure. We now know that young children not only are at risk from secondhand smoke exposure, but also thirdhand smoke exposure from the numerous toxic particles, emitted from a cigarette or cigar, that fall and accumulate on common surfaces such as clothes, furniture and carpet.

In older children, secondhand smoke exposure is associated with numerous respiratory illnesses resulting in hospitalizations, an increase in asthma symptoms and increased headaches -- all contributing to increased school absenteeism. Children exposed to second-hand smoke have demonstrated poorer cognition scores and often poorer academic achievement.

More than 90 percent of all adult smokers begin the habit before they graduate from high school. Children and teens start smoking for a variety of reasons, including modeling the behavior they observe in their parents and older siblings, as well as peer pressure.

ONE OF THE MOST effective strategies for prevention is parent modeling of healthy behaviors among young children and establishing an anti-tobacco environment at home. Also, having good communication between parents and children often deters children and teen smoking.

Nonetheless, young teens getting a part- or full-time job in today's economically challenged environment often accept employment opportunities in environments laden with secondhand smoke. Because they are the employees, a clean, smoke-free environment often is not an option, and they feel trapped between a job with a toxic environment or unemployment.

But as a community, we can improve those environs as well. Implementation of smoke-free ordinances has resulted in dramatic, sustained reductions in hospitalizations of children for asthma and adults for heart attacks. Also, research has demonstrated that passage of a smoke-free ordinance does not negatively affect the economic welfare of restaurants and bars, but actually contributes to an increase in economic revenues.

Our neighboring communities already have experienced these healthy advances. One of Augusta/Richmond County's closest neighbors, Columbia County, in recent years successfully adopted a smoke-free ordinance.

In August of last year, a sister city, Savannah, adopted the most comprehensive smoke-free environment legislation in Georgia, essentially closing all the loopholes in the state law by requiring all businesses to become smoke-free. Feedback from bar and business owners has been overwhelmingly positive since the ordinance was implemented last January.

THE SELF-ENFORCING nature of the ordinance resulted in a smooth transition to a smoke-free environment with minimal compliance-related issues. It is anticipated that Chatham County will adopt a similar ordinance this fall. In 1990, Georgia Health Sciences University buildings went smoke-free, and sale of tobacco products was prohibited. Four years ago, the campus strengthened its policy to include outdoor space.

As the established leader in providing health profession education and preparing the future health-care leaders and work force of allied health professionals, dentists, nurses, physicians and biomedical and behavioral scientists, Georgia Health Sciences University strongly encourages healthy settings for people of all ages. This includes a smoke-free environment.

As a community gaining increasing notoriety as a health-care destination, we encourage Augusta's citizens and leaders to come together, agree on what is best for the whole and move forward for health with this simple yet far-reaching effort to ensure smoke-free environments for all.

(The writers are, respectively, the Charles W. Linder Endowed Chair in Pediatrics and the assistant dean of the Southeast Georgia Clinical Campus at Georgia Health Sciences University.)

Comments (16) Add comment
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Georgia_1970
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Georgia_1970 07/30/11 - 10:48 pm
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I don't condole smoking but

I don't condole smoking but when will this campaign shift to, or include another troubled subject , like , i dont know , ALCOHOL..Can't smoke with in 30 ft of the door , but you can drink beer and drive your kids home from Chucky Cheese.?! Don't let your children watch a movie with someone smoking a cigarette , but plenty of booze , sex and drugs..Gonna be a drunk / high generation comming up and no one cares. They are too proud of thier accomplishments to abolish cigarettes to care..

copperhead
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copperhead 07/31/11 - 04:59 am
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The government should outlaw

The government should outlaw ANYTHING that could be considered harmful to anyone. We need TOTAL government regulation. We certainly don't have enough sense to take care of ourselves. Please,government,help us! I understand that all the OTHER polutants that we pour into our atmosphere have NOTHING to do with the sickness brought on by ONLY second-hand smoke,but all power plants that polute to any degree must be shut down,all internal combustion engines must be outlawed. We can't stop with just cigarette smoke,we must ban ALL polutants. MORE regulations and MORE government-THAT is what we need!

wondersnevercease
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wondersnevercease 07/31/11 - 07:39 am
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And the polar bears are
Unpublished

And the polar bears are drowning..........................

scgator
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scgator 07/31/11 - 09:08 am
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I am NOT a smoker, and NEVER

I am NOT a smoker, and NEVER have been a smoker; and I DON'T like smoking........but enough already ! Leave the smokers alone; "Research" says it the #1 most preventable health issue. Well, you or anyone else will NEVER have my "thumbs up" until you start attacking alcohol and drunkedness the same way you do smoking. BTW, has anybody bothered to do a public poll on the number of health professionals who smoke and drink all the while telling their patients that they are killing themselves........

scgator
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scgator 07/31/11 - 09:17 am
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agree on what is best for the

agree on what is best for the whole and move forward for health with this simple yet far-reaching effort to ensure smoke-free environments for all.

Okay, I agree with this statement; now tomorrow, let's start revoking liquor licenses, closing bars, and slap a fine on grocery stores that want to sell beer and wine. Let's REALLY dig in and do what is BEST FOR AUGUSTA............or are Martha S. Tingen Ph.D. and Kathyrn Martin Ph.D M.P.A............JUST BLOWIN' SMOKE ???

Dixieman
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Dixieman 07/31/11 - 09:45 am
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Nanny state fools. Why not

Nanny state fools. Why not call for prohibition of tobacco? Regulation of my weight? My sleeping habits? My exercise regime (or lack of one)?
I can foresee the day when I have to show my weight card at McDonalds and have them swipe it, no fries for me if I had some yesterday...compulsory gymnastics...monitoring of my sexual practices by closed-circuit tv in my bedroom...can't buy pants that clash with my shirt...where will it end??
That government is best which governs least.

seenitB4
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seenitB4 07/31/11 - 09:59 am
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dixieman.....Monitoring your

dixieman.....Monitoring your sexual parctices with closed circuit tv...wow......do you think THAT could happen???
I did hear the government had scanning devices that could look into a home & pickup body heat...you know, something like the scanners at the airport--also to look for drugs growing in home....so I guess they have it now---body heat anyone!!

Riverman1
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Riverman1 07/31/11 - 09:58 am
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It better be a large screen

It better be a large screen closed circuit TV.

seenitB4
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seenitB4 07/31/11 - 10:11 am
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river----A 54 inch tv would

river----A 54 inch tv would probably do the trick---lol

dichotomy
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dichotomy 07/31/11 - 10:38 am
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bla bla bla bla bla. A couple

bla bla bla bla bla. A couple of more One-Issue-Wonders chiming in. Ignore those smokestacks spewing particulates into the air, ignore the stuff coming out of the tailpipes of your BMWs, ignore the industrial pollution and sewage spills being dumped into the river. But let's legislate and punish a few smokey bars in the county. We've been punishing and taxing smokers to death for 30 years or so and all the while asthma and allergy rates have been escalating. Probably because these same people told us to scrub our kids with anti-bacterial soap every 15 minutes while they pumped them up with antibiotics every time they got a sniffel, so now they have no resistance to ANYTHING and the drugs no longer work. These are the same people who have told you DON'T EAT EGGS, THEY ARE BAD FOR YOU and then EAT EGGS, THEY ARE GOOD FOR YOU......DON'T DRINK COFFEE, IT'S BAD FOR YOU and then DRINK SOME COFFEE, IT'S GOOD FOR YOU......DON'T DRINK ANY ALCOHOL, IT'S BAD FOR YOU and then DRINK SOME WINE, IT'S GOOD FOR YOU.

If you busybodies really want to do something then park your Beemer, concentrate on the smokestack polluters that are polluting EVERYONE'S air and water, and lower your outrageous medical fees and salaries you get for sticking your nose in other people's business. Hypocrites!

Go ahead and pass your little law. It's not going to change anyone's health and you know it. This is stictly a PC social issue. All the while you can keep over treating, over prescribing, and over charging while you kill us with un-needed meds and take outrageous fees and salaries to do it. We know you busybodies have a need to be PC social crusaders and we just wonder where you will turn you attentions next. I'll bet you will be the first to line up for a fast food tax and a soda pop tax. Me, I'd rather see a Beemer, Lexus, and Mercedes tax and a special "windfall profit" tax on doctors and other busybodies who keep giving us advice and medications that get "recalled" a few years down the road.

Central Ave
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Central Ave 07/31/11 - 01:38 pm
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Most of the comments above

Most of the comments above reek, and I use that term correctly and intentionally, of anti-intellectualism which has been the cause of many problems taking much longer to solve than they should. These anti-government and anti-regulation freaks would strip government regulation down to its core..Hell, don't inspect food, don't inspect airplanes or buildings or have speed limits..just go back to the good ole days when everyone's life expectancy was 20 years less and the quality of life was generally miserable. To read a letter like the one in today's paper and post comments like the ones above shows a mentality that is so out of touch with reality that it is probably a waste of energy to even respond. Live in your world of denial and paranoid dreams of big bad government. Most of your fellow citizens are moving on to the 21st century. Have a lovely time in the 19th. And while you are destroying yourself, please don't ask the taxpayers to pay all your medical bills when you on the oxygen tank and disabled. Yeah, right. That'll be the day. That big old bad government check is not going to be sent back by a single one of you as you struggle to breathe. Oh, but those bad old mean-spirited doctors are just meddling. Good Lord! Please save this beautiful country from these proponents of denial.

Asitisinaug
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Asitisinaug 07/31/11 - 01:54 pm
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We DO NOT NEED any more

We DO NOT NEED any more legislation to protect us from ourselves.

This legislation is focusing on legal aged adults in private businesses doing something that is legal for their age.

No one under age 18 is even allowed in any of these locations covered under these requested new laws. No one is forcing anyone to go into any of these private businesses. Therefore, leave it up to the business owners and consumers not a few elected officials.

The government at all levels is passing absurd new laws and taxes on everything from comfort foods to trans fats to cigarettes, etc. and it will not stop here unless we inform our elected leaders that we do not need a bigger or more controlling government.

I'm not a smoker but this potential law is ridiculous. If cigarettes are really that bad for everyone then outlaw them completly and give up all of that tax revenue.

Central Ave
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Central Ave 07/31/11 - 02:05 pm
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Taverns and bars are NOT

Taverns and bars are NOT private businesses in the sense that your home is private. They are licensed and have been forever by local and state governments thereby creating the public criteria for possible regulation. Case law has upheld the constitutionality of this relationship for decades. So the "private" argument doesn't hold water. If you open a business to the public you have a duty to provide a healthy atmosphere not injurious to the health of your patrons AND employees. That is all that the proposed law is doing.

eagle
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eagle 07/31/11 - 04:30 pm
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Oh good---more government
Unpublished

Oh good---more government rules/regs! Don't you just love it??

madgerman
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madgerman 07/31/11 - 06:37 pm
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I would agree with Ms.
Unpublished

I would agree with Ms. Thigpen if she would just produce ONE certificate of death that states death was caused by smoking or secondary smoke. Surely there is one somewhere out there if millions are dieing from it. What ever she does, please leave the fat kids alone because we are already aware of their obesity and their chances for heart disease at an early age. Glad to see we have progressed to thisr degree contamination and am waiting for the announcement of fourth and fifth, what ever they are. P.S. maybe if ashes are in the carpet, mamas need to vacuum more often.

madgerman
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madgerman 07/31/11 - 06:38 pm
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Speaking of carpets and
Unpublished

Speaking of carpets and health, Have you noticed how the infections have increased in hospitals since they started to lay carpet over the tile floors? The old tiles were scrubbed daily with a disinfectant, I wonder how often carpets are cleaned?

Asitisinaug
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Asitisinaug 07/31/11 - 06:45 pm
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All of the employees and

All of the employees and prisoners breating in the mold from the law enforcement center are at far greater risk in the "government" building and for years it has continued to be ignored.

Central Avenue, under GA Law, Bars, Nightclubs and Taverns can deny entry to any person for any reason other than race. This is far more discretionary than any other business out there and these businesses are opened with private funding and are privately maintained with enrty only permitted to those 18 and older.

You may not be able to make a decision for yourslef as to enter such an establishment or not but I along with most others don't need the government making this decision for me.

These laws also go WAY overboard to include not even allowing a covered deck area, no smoking within 25' of the building, no private rooms to allow business owners to take care of their guests, etc.

No one is saying we shouldn't have the FDA informing us and allowing us to make our own decisions but for the FDA to ban items or recommend much higher taxes on items from various food groups, drinks, etc. is all an over reach from those in power within the government.

InChristLove
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InChristLove 08/01/11 - 05:18 am
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"If you open a business to

"If you open a business to the public you have a duty to provide a healthy atmosphere not injurious to the health of your patron"

Looks like they will be shutting down all the McD's.....

wondersnevercease
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wondersnevercease 08/01/11 - 10:25 am
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Yes INL..and all the ihops
Unpublished

Yes INL..and all the ihops and malls that fights and thug activity take place in............................close them all down!!! LOL

socks99
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socks99 08/01/11 - 11:58 am
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I'd compliment the authors'**

I'd compliment the authors'** for a good summary of the neoliberal anti-smoking agenda in GA, so far. On the other hand, why did they omit the fact that the Savannah ordinance actually banned the use of the E-cigarette? (A device that emits no smoke used to aid smokers quit.) They do, however, highlight an actual ordinance (Savannah) that help's 'out' the raison d'etre of the 'banners:' They wrote the law to PREVENT the establishment of private clubs that could derail the bans. In other words, it was NEVER about protecting non-smokers, but about a back-door Prohibition on smoking!

Here's how smoking bans can 'help' local economies:

http://onlineathens.com/stories/073110/liv_688665004.shtml

** I'd also note for the record a cautionary note vis a vis spending on public health 'resources.' For instance, too much of the 'budgetary priority' is co-opted to employ, cloth and house folks like these two -- who pick-up a 'special' issue, and run with it.

In almost every public and private institutional setting where public health policy is devised or carried out, there are a 'raft' of specially interested participants always competing to try and capture a larger piece of the budget.

Unfortunately, all the money invested, here, and the way it can dominate the public policy process resources, are a tremendous 'drain' on our society. For instance, spending to 'fight for the ban' actually takes away dollars that actually could be used to treat disease in humans.

U.GA.'s new 'health sciences campus,' on Prince Avenue, for instance, has already completely banned smoking on campus; my reason for mentioning this fact is that U.GA., proper, allows smoking on campus in designated areas. The health care campus, though, is mostly controlled by those with a self-centered and counterproductive agenda: They demanded a campus wide ban, and they got it!

Billyrep
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Billyrep 08/27/11 - 03:08 pm
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Are you people crazy in

Are you people crazy in Augusta ? Just because you do not smoke you think you have a right to tell people you dont even know or ever met that you dont give a D--- you have to do as I say not as you want as a free person Hell even the President of America still smokes and if you think he doesnt then shame on you . I know that you two ladies think you know what your talking about but do you know the people that do the studies personally ? I think not. They get payed Big Money from the govt. to do these studies. Thats how they make there money. Well untill you do these studies yourself And know for a fact, then you should sit on the curb or stay home away from the smokers ! BY THE WAY I DONT SMOKE !!

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