For the sake of public health, it's time for Augusta to go smoke-free

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Public health has many definitions, but to boil it down to its simplest meaning, it’s always concerned with any issue that affects the well-being of a whole lot of people. Over my 35-year career in public health, the issues have included everything from clean water and clean air to a safe environment and access to healthy food.

Public health connects us all. And positive change happens when we partner together, whether that’s policymakers, business owners or grassroots organizations. Reducing exposure to secondhand smoke is a basic health issue that we all need to support. In a landmark 2006 report, the U.S. surgeon general stated unequivocally that there is no safe amount of secondhand smoke. Consider too that secondhand smoke contains more than 4,000 chemicals, many of which are toxic and can cause cancer.

STUDIES ALSO have demonstrated that adults who breathe in five hours of secondhand smoke (about average for a workplace such as a bar where smoking occurs) have higher “bad” cholesterol, and the exposure also increases a person’s risk of developing lung cancer by 20 to 30 percent.

Organizations such as Healthy Augusta are working to reach the goal of clean air for workers in Augusta and the CSRA. When I was asked by community leaders to re-establish Healthy Augusta in October 2013, we immediately knew that reducing exposure to secondhand smoke would be one of our primary goals.

The first reason was the health dangers for workers and business patrons when breathing in the dangerous chemicals during hours of exposure. Second, we saw the benefits of a smoke-free ordinance on a city during a visit with Healthy Savannah. When Augusta’s smoke-free ordinance was being voted down several months ago, Savannah’s already had been approved. The business owners were very pleased with the benefits. Despite fears and negative predictions, their businesses actually improved after the ordinance was put in place. They also liked the health benefits for their employees. Interestingly, some business owners told us they were simply waiting for the ordinance to pass so they didn’t have to be the “bad guys” to their customers.

ACCORDING TO recent statistics, a majority of residents in Augusta-Richmond County support going smoke-free. Eight-two percent of residents surveyed said that smoking should never be allowed indoors in workplaces, and 61 percent of Republican voters in Augusta supported smoke-free policies during a 2012 ballot straw poll. I’ve seen this support personally through 25 organizations (and growing!) that represent the steering committee for Healthy Augusta, and who now advocate for smoke-free workplaces.

As a member of this community, I urge you to contact your commissioner and let him or her know where you stand on the issue of secondhand smoke. I encourage our Augusta Commission to keep the public’s health in mind as its members cast their votes for the smoke-free ordinance May 6.

(The writer is the facilitator for Healthy Augusta; director of the Georgia Regents University Institute of Public and Preventive Health; and vice president of the Georgia Public Health Association.)

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Bodhisattva
7332
Points
Bodhisattva 05/04/14 - 05:45 am
8
4
Move to Savannah

This is going to brought up every few months until the anti-smoking Nazis get their way. I know of no one that participated in any type of survey, and know quite a number of people in Augusta/Richmond County. The only places smoking is even allowed is in restaurants and bars that do not admit or employ people under 18 years old. How exactly did you see " the benefits of a smoke-free ordinance on a city during a visit with Healthy Savannah"? Did you x-ray the lungs of patrons? Did you test the air to see if it was clear of all environmental pollution? Or, more likely, you walked in and saw you got your way and simply felt smug and victorious that you could go beyond state law and force business owners to ban smoking simply because you don't like it and find it offensive? So you get your way and adults can't smoke in a bar because there's "no safe amount of secondhand smoke". At a sidewalk cafe, what's the "safe amount" of gasoline/diesel exhaust? There are several factories here that constantly pour pollution into the air that we get to breathe 24/7.
From the Chronicle," Augusta was 23rd on the list of cities (in the nation) with the worst long-term levels of particle pollution. Yet its 14.8 micrograms per cubic meter was just under the EPA's threshold of 15 per cubic meter...particle pollution is typically a mixture of ash, soot, diesel exhaust, chemicals, metals and aerosols." And you people are having a hissy fit about adults smoking in a bar? Pitiful.

gaflyboy
5365
Points
gaflyboy 05/04/14 - 07:08 am
6
4
Bod is right.

Here we go again!

For the sake of public health, why not ban bars & alcohol, and cars? Or will that come later? What about chairs? I read a couple of articles recently that said that sitting is the new smoking ... horrible for your health.

An interesting thing about these reports ... A little digging shows tons of reports (note: not studies). But they are based on other reports, some over 40 years old and full of holes. A report begets a report and so on. A New England Journal of Medicine study from 1975 found that sitting in a lounge with smoke obnoxiously puffed in your face equates to 0.004 cigarettes an hour.

But then, this doesn’t fit the narrative and if there’s no real problem it would be hard to justify all the tax dollars.

But I understand Dr. Smith. Your job and income depends on pushing this. But please, advocate and educate ... but let's not legislate.

gaflyboy
5365
Points
gaflyboy 05/04/14 - 07:37 am
5
3
Inconsiderate.

Rude and annoying yes. Dangerous? Not so much. Outside? Leave smokers alone.

edcushman
7930
Points
edcushman 05/04/14 - 08:01 am
2
3
"This is going to brought up
Unpublished

"This is going to brought up every few months until the anti-smoking Nazis get their way."
bad, you mean the progressive left? It is your party that is pushing these kind of things.

dichotomy
37656
Points
dichotomy 05/04/14 - 09:07 am
5
2
Blah blah blah blah. Defeat

Blah blah blah blah. Defeat this thing and drive a stake through it's heart.

"For the sake of public health, why not ban bars & alcohol, and cars?"

They are CRUSADERS. They will be BACK TO GET THOSE THINGS after they dictate to PRIVATE business owners what they can allow in their PRIVATE places of business. They know they have to be sneaky and take your freedoms and personal decisions away from you a little bit at a time. Cigarettes and the freedom of bar owners today, next year alcohol, and when they win that one it will be your gasoline powered car. THEY ARE CRUSADERS....THERE MUST ALWAYS BE A NEXT CRUSADE.

The logical solution to this is for bars and restaurants to declare and post their businesses as SMOKING or NON-SMOKING and for patrons and employees to use their common sense as to whether they will patronize or work in these businesses. It is NOT up to any government body to dictate that this LEGAL PRODUCT cannot be used in a PRIVATE BUSINESS.

Just keep asking yourself......WHAT'S THE NEXT CRUSADE.

Oh yeh, and PLEASE post ALL of the details of this proposed ordinance. Bars are not the only restrictions. And PLEASE have them JUSTIFY their ban on e-cigarettes with SCIENTIFIC, PROVEN evidence that there is ANY FIRST HAND or SECOND HAND exposure to ANY carcinogen.

A bunch of heavy handed thug hypocrite crusaders who love to push people around by pressuring a few gullible local politicians. Vote this thing down forcefully and resoundingly.

Bizkit
35764
Points
Bizkit 05/04/14 - 09:13 am
6
1
What's with all the public

What's with all the public health PhD' from GRU letters? Defenders of the Nanny State-because you are too stupid to take care of yourself. People have a right to be stupid. Look at Azziz.

Bizkit
35764
Points
Bizkit 05/04/14 - 09:46 am
2
1
I've been reading up on

I've been reading up on ecigs. In theory they should be much safer than an actual cigarette. The problems seem to be in quality control because even the nicotine free contained nicotine, nicotine wasn't delivered evenly, and other tobacco contaminates (some of the bad compounds too) were found (from the nicotine addition from tobacco). A recent study found that the vapor from an ecig or cigarette produce the same changes in in vitro cultured bronchial cells. I find that really strange because the regular cigarette should be more toxic because it does contain more toxic compounds-perhaps purify the common factor and examine that. Then you wonder what do these changes mean-less than 10% of lifelong smokers get lung cancer. The emphasis on lung cancer is really misleading cause it is cardiovascular disease that has the stronger link. Smoking definitely decreases your life span and increases your risk to cancer too, but vaccinations increase your life span and reduce your risk to cancer too. Should Americans have the right to deny vaccinations when it like smoking is a public and personal health hazard (unvaccinated children spread disease and lose herd immunity, and studies indicate vaccination increases lifespans and reduce risks of cancer)?

Gage Creed
19462
Points
Gage Creed 05/04/14 - 11:25 am
4
2
I request a grant to study

I request a grant to study banning people that want to ban everything... studies show that banning things leads to a black market for said banned items, as with any black market there are a number of health issues associated ie: risk of heart attack or stroke while running from the police, trauma from not paying your protection money (broken bones, abrasions, lacerations, etc.)

I see this as a major health issue that bears research.

Respectfully,

Gage Creed
HMiC
Sam Houston Institute of Technology
Doctor of Serendipity
Ferris Wheel State
Tenured Chair at Wassmatta U.

Bizkit
35764
Points
Bizkit 05/04/14 - 12:46 pm
2
1
For the sake of public

For the sake of public health, all alcohol and tobacco regulated and reduced/regulated consumption, knives, and guns will be confiscated, and all people mandatory vaccinations (as WHO suggest). It is all for your own good because it reduces violence and keeps you healthy. Your diet will have to be controlled too-so red meat only one or twice a month, no fried foods, salt consumption regulated by blood test as your blood glucose that the government will keep records of to help prevent diabetes, stroke and heart disease. We have to follow this to its ultimate conclusion for the sake of "public health". Any resistance just means your are ignorant so progressives can just dismiss you like the Dems the Benghazi hearings.

Darby
29537
Points
Darby 05/04/14 - 03:27 pm
2
4
"I know of no one that participated in any

type of survey, and know quite a number of people in Augusta/Richmond County."

.
Take it from Bod, if he/she doesn't know someone, anyone who was surveyed, then THERE WAS NO SURVEY!

On the one hand, I believe that smoking should be allowed as long at it's legal. On the OTHER hand, I'd have no regrets if we could find a way to get into the minds of smokers and convince them that they are killing themselves and others.

I'm one of those people who is highly allergic to cigarette smoke, first or second hand and once exposed, it takes me twenty-four to forty-eight hours to recover and get my lungs back to normal.

I'd really appreciate it if all you smokers would get into your cars, on a hot summer day, roll the windows up, turn off the air conditioner and smoke until your teeth fall out.

STILL, if that is not to be, then I'll accept my fate and just try to stay out of your way.

'nough said.

KSL
144821
Points
KSL 05/04/14 - 06:36 pm
2
2
I agree with all of you who

I agree with all of you who do not want the nanny state. It would never end. It already is pushing the intolerable.

itsanotherday1
48420
Points
itsanotherday1 05/04/14 - 09:26 pm
1
0
Just 3 hrs ago, my wife and I

Just 3 hrs ago, my wife and I were dining outside at a restaurant in Evans. CIgarette smoke wafted over our table a couple of times, and I said to her: "That annoys the heck out of me; smelling that stench while I'm trying to eat. But you know what? We chose to eat out here, so there is nothing I can say".

AutumnLeaves
10441
Points
AutumnLeaves 05/04/14 - 09:49 pm
1
0
Oxygen canisters are selling

Oxygen canisters are selling well. Need for them is sure to increase as long as there are smokers.

corgimom
38775
Points
corgimom 05/04/14 - 10:22 pm
1
2
I just think that it is so

I just think that it is so sad that people would be so addicted to something that they can't even go out to a restaurant without it.

California has smoke-free restaurants and bars. So does Charlotte.

And they are full.

As for the die-hard smokers who insist that they won't patronize a business that is smoke-free, we thank you.

Once it gets passed, and businessowners see their business increase and realize that they just gained a huge new market, they are all for it.

As for the ridiculous idea that private businesses should do what they want, that isn't true. A business is subject to many, many laws, and this would be just another. Anybody that thinks a private business doesn't have numerous laws governing many parts of their business is not living in reality.

Would you want to patronize a business that didn't follow fire codes? That didn't have proper sewerage? That didn't have to follow laws in handling and preparing food? That employed food workers that were ill with TB? That didn't have to be inspected by the Board of Health?

So the idea that private businesses should be allowed to do what they want is, quite frankly, hogwash.

InChristLove
22485
Points
InChristLove 05/05/14 - 04:45 am
1
0
"As for the ridiculous idea

"As for the ridiculous idea that private businesses should do what they want, that isn't true. A business is subject to many, many laws, and this would be just another."

When they enact a law that states you can not smoke in the privacy of your home, or you can not consume alchohol in the privacy of your home, or pass a law only one alcoholic drink with your meal (you know to cut down on the dangers of DUI) or you can't smoke in your vehicle, do you not see where freedom is slowing slipping away?

Since smoking is not against the law, why can they not allow these private businesses who wish to allow smoking to post a notice that it is a smoking establishment and let those businesses who do not wish to allow smoking post it as a smoke free business and let each individual be responsible for their own decision.

BANTOBACCODRUG
30
Points
BANTOBACCODRUG 05/05/14 - 04:21 pm
0
0
BAN ALL SMOKING EVERYWHERE, NOW!
Unpublished

Why is anyone even still talking about this issue!

BAN ALL SMOKING, EVERYWHERE, NOW! Toxic tobacco smoke KILLS 180 INNOCENT people in the U.S. EVERY DAY!

Smokers and other tobacco addicts are just 12% of the American population and are brain damaged and mentally ill from tobacco addiction.

BAN ALL SMOKING AND BAN THE ILLEGAL TOBACCO DRUG, NOW!

PROSECUTE THE CRIMINAL TOBACCO PUSHERS, TOO!

TOBACCO IS TERRORISM!

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