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Goal to eliminate public tobacco usage in 2007

Thursday, November 16, 2006

If all goes according to a proposed plan from the Putnam County Tobacco Prevention and Cessation Program, businesses, restaurants, and all Greencastle city buildings will be smoke-free in 2007.

On Tuesday, the organization's coordinator, Meredith Williams, spoke to members of the Greater Greencastle Chamber of Commerce regarding taking a proposal to Greencastle City Council early next year. The proposal would make all city buildings smoke-free, joining several other cities and towns in the state that have voted in favor of smoke-free buildings.

Williams delivered her presentation to 14 Chamber members at the Putnam Inn Tuesday.

"Our goal would be to pass an ordinance for the city that includes all public places, restaurants, bars, private clubs," Williams said. "We have been campaigning in the past few months."

Williams said that 31 cities and communities in the state have passed smoke-free ordinances recently, including Plainfield, Avon, Terre Haute and Bloomington.

"Greencastle is in the middle of these areas," Williams said. "It's the trend in a lot of communities."

On Tuesday, Williams said the tentative plan is to approach the Greencastle City Council, possibly in February, and propose the ordinance.

She said some cities and communities in the state have set up ordinances that call for smoke-free buildings, but exclude bars and private clubs.

However, Williams said the local ordinance the organization will propose will include all buildings.

"Our goal is for a comprehensive plan," Williams said. "We're really going for it all right now. We won't be happy unless it's comprehensive.

"Greencastle is already moving in that direction."

During her presentation Tuesday, Williams delivered several facts on the dangers of second-hand smoke, saying recent studies conducted by the United States Surgeon General concluded that second-hand smoke was just as dangerous, if not more, as smoking.

She said research showed that tobacco smoke contains nearly 5,000 chemicals, including ammonia, arsenic, cyanide, methane, tar, nicotine and carbon monoxide, among other chemicals.

Williams said past research did not focus on the danger of second-hand smoke. But the new information has several cities and communities nationwide changing their minds regarding smoke-free ordinances. She added that ventilating areas, according to research, does not eliminate exposure to second-hand smoke and that employees have rights to work in smoke-free environments.

"People have the right to not be exposed to (second-hand smoke)," Williams said.

Williams said she was encouraged that DePauw University had already taken steps in a smoke-free direction, saying the Fluttering Duck, a bar inside Walden Inn on campus, has already gone smoke-free.

Williams added that because Greencastle has a university, the city is considered a "progressive" community, which has most people calling for a smoke-free environment within the city.

Williams said the long-term goal was to make all buildings in the county smoke-free in the future and added her organization would not exclude private clubs and bars in their proposed ordinance.

"We feel that if we can get (Greencastle), we can eventually get the county," she said. "We will be moving to go county-wide.

"We want every business in Putnam County to be on the same playing field. We don't want to exclude anybody."

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