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Wednesday, May 4, 2016

City council to consider smoking ban next week

Saturday, March 10, 2007

A cake decorated like a Brownie uniform (foreground) was among the many cakes decorated by Northern Putnam County Girl Scouts and auctioned Friday evening as a fundraiser. Judges for the event were (from left) Marjorie Robinson, Jill Spiker and Greencastle Mayor Nancy Michael.
Supporters of a citywide smoking ban in Greencastle rallied Thursday night for perhaps the last time before heading to the city council meeting next week where a decision about a tobacco ordinance is anticipated.

Local Tobacco Cessation Coordinator Meredith Williams said members of the group plan to turn out in force Tuesday night as the council considers a proposed smoking ordinance, the details of which are not known.

Last month, Councilman Bob Sedlack asked the city attorney to draft an ordinance that would ban smoking across the city. He was the only one of the five-member council to express an immediate interest in having an ordinance.

Other members either spoke out against any type of ordinance or said they wanted more time to think about it.

Attorney Laurie Robertson-Hardwick said this week that she has completed the ordinance and will present it, as requested, to the council when it meets Tuesday at 7 p.m.

Three city officials, including two members of the city council, attended Thursday night's public forum which tobacco cessation members titled "Clearing the Air."

Greencastle Mayor Nancy Michael, along with council President John Lanie and Councilman Sedlack, were present at the meeting which included a panel of experts talking about the health issues associated with secondhand smoke. Councilmen Tom Roach, Mark Hammer and Russ Evans did not attend the meeting.

The panel included Dr. Stephen Jay, professor at the IU School of Journalism. He said there is no level of secondhand smoke that is not harmful to humans.

Statistics provided by Jay suggested that up to 60 percent of American who don't smoke have traces of secondhand smoke in their bodies and that being exposed for only a short time is the same as a person smoking several cigarettes.

An expert with the state's smoking cessation group provided statistics from a recent survey of three Indiana cities: Indianapolis, Bloomington and Fort Wayne. What the study showed is that city's that enacted a smoking ban saw their air quality improve by 89 percent.

Michael McDonald, who heads Hendricks County's tobacco prevention coalition, said the towns of Avon and Plainfield recently enacted smoking bans. He encouraged local leaders to educate themselves as much as possible before making a decision about a smoking ban.

After the meeting, Council President Lanie told the BannerGraphic he appreciated having the opportunity to hear more information about the issue and that he believes it will help him make a more informed decision Tuesday night.

"It was good to hear all the information," he said.

No one who attended the meeting spoke out against a smoking ban, however, opponents have argued at past public meetings that a prohibition of smoking in restaurants, bars and private clubs would adversely affect their profits.

McDonald said it's too early to tell what effect the ban will have on businesses in Plainfield and Avon.

The ordinance there bans smoking in all restaurants, bars and private clubs, however, private clubs can have smoking if they are not hosting a public event. In the event that it's just club members, smoking is allowed, McDonald said.

Supporters say the health of humans who are exposed to secondhand smoke is more important than any loss in revenues that a business might face.

"The truth stands," McDonald said.

Williams said she was pleased with the turnout Thursday night.

"I appreciate all the people who participated and all the questions," Williams said.

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