City needs smoke-free air statute

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In July 2005, the Georgia Smokefree Air Act became law. The intent of the law was to reduce secondhand smoke exposure for employees and patrons. Even though all Georgians are governed by this law, the 2005 legislation does not protect all workers and citizens from secondhand smoke. It falls short of protecting a significant number of business employees and employees and patrons at outdoor venues, community parks and recreation centers.

WHEN PEOPLE’S health is at risk of being compromised, it becomes a public health issue. The Georgia Department of Public Health’s role is to ensure children and adults can play at, work at and enjoy public places and events without unwillingly being exposed to a serious health hazard.

In 2006, after the adoption of the Georgia Smokefree Air Act, the U.S. surgeon general’s report The Health Consequences of Involuntary Exposure to Tobacco Smoke revealed that smoke-free policies are the most economic and effective approach for providing protection from exposure to secondhand smoke. The 2010 surgeon general’s report How Tobacco Smoke Causes Diseases: The Biology and Behavioral Basis for Smoking Attributable Disease substantiated the previous evidence that there is no safe level of exposure to tobacco smoke.

The 2010 report describes in detail the ways tobacco smoke damages every organ in the body and causes disease and death. When individuals inhale tobacco smoke, either directly or secondhand, they are inhaling more than 7,000 chemicals – hundreds are hazardous and at least 69 are known to cause cancer. The chemicals are rapidly adsorbed by cells in the body and produce disease-causing cellular changes.

THE PROPOSED ordinance will not eliminate smoking, but will restrict smoking in public places where nonsmoking citizens’ health is presently compromised because of exposure to secondhand smoke. The ordinance includes the following recommendations:

• Restrict smoking at least 20 feet from all entrances: buildings’ windows, entrances or openings where smoke may filter into a building; outdoor seating areas; and entrances to door venues;

• Eliminate smoking in service lines where more than one person must stand in an outdoor line;

• Provide no-smoking environments in all enclosed places of employment that employ two or more employees;

• Restrict smoking to 20 feet from the entrances to public parks and recreation center and eliminate smoking inside parks or outdoor venue areas.

Governments throughout the world – along with the neighboring cities/counties of Savannah, Athens and Columbia County in Georgia, and Aiken, Columbia and Charleston, S.C. – have adopted smoke-free air ordinances that protect the health of everyone. Richmond County residents and visitors deserve to breathe smoke-free air. A smoke-free air ordinance is a step forward to creating a healthy Augusta.

(The writer is district health director for Georgia Department of Public Health’s East Central Public Health District VI.)

Comments (11) Add comment
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jkline
527
Points
jkline 11/03/13 - 07:25 am
7
1
The Nanny State

Less freedom, more rules. If a doctor says that it is for your own good, it must be so. Enforcement will cost money too, but the taxpayer will cover it.

The real disease is the one that causes every human activity to require a rule or law. That is really what is wrong with us.

deestafford
26523
Points
deestafford 11/03/13 - 09:48 am
8
1
So, now it's 7000 chemicals in second hand smoke? Wow!

Last week it was 4000! This stuff must really be something if it can almost double in a week.

The nanny state has got so bad in some places smoking on beaches is not allowed.

Lord, protect me from those who want to protect me from myself...whatever their compassion may be.

avidreader
3104
Points
avidreader 11/03/13 - 10:15 am
8
2
Go Away!

Dr. Gonzalez -- Go away! I respect your determination and you are probably correct in your assessment of health risks; however, you are promoting another law that infringes upon the rights of the taxpayer.

Three people sit down in a restaurant. Two are of average girth, but the third is painfully obese. The "two" order rib-eyes with baked potato and the "third" is forced by law to order from the healthy section of the menu -- salad with steamed asparagus. Obesity is a huge drain on the medical resources in America, so we must legislate the problem and force these people into submission.

If a bar owner restricts the age of the patrons (21), and chooses to allow these patrons to smoke, then so be it. If a bartender or waitress or musician apply for a job, then they have a choice -- sign on or sign out. Patrons also have choices.

dichotomy
32121
Points
dichotomy 11/03/13 - 10:40 am
9
2
When you shut down all

When you shut down all automobiles in the county and the smokestacks out the East side I will worry about the minute amount of second hand cigarette smoke in the air. Until then you are just another crusading hypocrite with extremely selective concern, too much time on your hands, and your nose in other people's business.

Little Lamb
45313
Points
Little Lamb 11/03/13 - 04:33 pm
8
1
Outdoor Smoking Ban

The author has greatly expanded the number of outdoor spaces for which he would ban smoking. Watch out. You give them an inch, they will take a mile.

oldredneckman96
5067
Points
oldredneckman96 11/03/13 - 06:53 pm
3
7
Smokers
Unpublished

Here is a simple rule, let tobacco addicts use thier product anywhere you are allowed to defecate. Same reasons, same rules.

Bizkit
30742
Points
Bizkit 11/03/13 - 07:36 pm
6
2
It's all relative. There are

It's all relative. There are carcinogens in the food we eat, water we drink, and air we breathe. Viruses like human papilloma, hepatitis, and human t-cell lymphotropic viruses cause cancer. Cancer is growing to beat heart disease as the leading killer and it all said to be mostly preventable by reducing risk factors like smoking or drinking, getting all vaccinations, eating little red meat, exercise daily, get plenty of sleep, periodic fasting, know about you air and water quality and food quality. People are worried about the smoke in tobacco when we bathe in carcinogens regulated to allowable levels daily. I should add the allowable levels have changed over the years too. I hope they don't "cause" cancer cause surely the massive exposure of carcinogens I have been exposed as a scientist would surely doom me. Ah but there is hope-it's called our immune system and part that doesn't produce antibodies or T cells is called the innate immune system that have Natural Killer cells that attack tumor cells. Now some cancers aren't recognized by our immune system and then we have a problem. It's like global warming it's a global problem of exposure to carcinogens in so many vectors and we concentrate and spend our time on tobacco-which is still a legal substance. I guess it is like gun control that give some people a false sense of safety or better health by infringing on others rights too. Smokers should have legal places in any venue so they and non-smokers can enjoy life.

Bizkit
30742
Points
Bizkit 11/03/13 - 07:43 pm
7
1
Tobacco smoking accounted for

Tobacco smoking accounted for about 467,000 deaths.
High blood pressure was responsible for about 395,000 deaths.
Overweight-obesity accounted for 216,000 deaths.
Physical inactivity was linked to about 191,000 deaths.
High salt intake caused about 102,000 deaths (the most of any single dietary factor examined).
Ban salt from any restaurant. Obese inactive people must be banned-we may get second hand exposure to their bad habits so why expose adults or our impressionable youth to fat lazy behaviors. Alcohol causes cancer too so it must be banned because the combination of alcohol and tobacco is synergistic enhancing its lethality. People produce carbon dioxide-a bunch of idiot scientist say carbon dioxide is toxic-so we gotta ban people because they are pollutin' the air.

Gage Creed
16770
Points
Gage Creed 11/03/13 - 10:34 pm
6
1
Here's a simple rule for

Here's a simple rule for those who do not value individual freedoms... mind your own business. May I suggest that you don't place yourself in situations that adversely affect you, it's not rocket surgery.

Little Lamb
45313
Points
Little Lamb 11/03/13 - 10:51 pm
3
0
Logic

RedNeckMan posted:

Here is a simple rule, let tobacco addicts use thier [sic] product anywhere you are allowed to defecate. Same reasons, same rules.

In public establishments, persons are allowed to defecate wherever the owners of the establishments allow. Therefore, they should be allowed to smoke wherever the owners allow.

It should be between customer and owner. The government should not intervene.

Gage Creed
16770
Points
Gage Creed 11/03/13 - 11:02 pm
1
0
Confucius

Something, something, something, Confucius, something, something, Rice, something, something, Peas....

Dixieman
14412
Points
Dixieman 11/04/13 - 11:35 am
3
1
Butt out, Dr. Gonzalez

NO ONE IS FORCED TO TAKE A JOB IN AN ENVIRONMENT WHERE CIGARETTE SMOKING IS ALLOWED!! If not inhaling smoke is that important to you, you can work elsewhere. This is a total red herring. And what about the rights of the owners of bars and restaurants and any other private property to choose whether they will allow patrons to smoke? Nanny State thinking at its worst is reflected in this column.

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