City of Hammond considers smoking ban for public spaces

With the intent to protect non-smokers from the dangerous effects of secondhand smoke, the city of Hammond will be holding a public hearing today, to discuss their proposition of banning smoking in all workplaces and public spaces within the city limits. The ordinance was originally proposed on April 7.

The areas banned would include all hotel and motel rooms, private clubs, 5 feet of space outside any public buildings’ entrance, outdoor shopping malls, recreation areas and outdoors in multi-family residential complexes.

If passed, the police would take responsibility of enforcing the ordinance. Any violators caught would be fined $50.

Any business owners who allow smoking within their establishment will be fined $100 on the first violation, $200 on the second violation, $500 on the third violation [all within a calendar year] and will also be subjected to the possibility of losing their license.

“As an owner of a run and fitness store, as well as a health screening company, I’m for a smoking ban. My concern would be enforcement and the responsibility of a business to police it [as well],” said Mark Franatovich, owner of Perfectly Fit Sports.

According to The Detroit News, when the University of Michigan conducted a study in 2012 on the effects of the May 2010 Smoke Free Air Law, which banned smoking in bars and restaurants, the results indicated that there were no negative impacts on the businesses.

Hammond is not the first city to attempt to take a step in eliminating the air of tobacco smoke products completely. In fact, many studies have been conducted in larger, well known cities, such as New York City, San Jose, San Antonio and Chicago to name a few.

After the city of New York’s smoke-free law went into effect, cotinine levels in restaurant and bar workers were decreased by 85 percent on average.

Six restaurants in Grand Rapids, Michigan were monitored before and after the state’s smoke-free air law went into effect and found that PM2.5 fine particulate matter was reduced by a resounding 92 percent.

After conducting their own studies, the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health came to the conclusion that the “best means of eliminating workplace exposure to [secondhand smoke] is to ban all smoking in the casinos.”

Attempts of cleaning the air while maintaining designated smoking areas have also failed to achieve the goal of cleaning the air while allowing individuals the continued indulgence of smoking. A study in Nevada was conducted to test the efficiency of their Clean Indoor Air Act by sampling the air quality in 15 casino gambling and corresponding nonsmoking areas, the results revealed that the Clean Indoor act had failed to protect air quality in the nonsmoking areas.

The written ordinance states that, “there is indisputable evidence that implementing 100 percent smoke-free environments is the only effective way to protect the population from the harmful effects of exposure to secondhand smoke.”

Another form of tobacco contamination is third-hand smoke; when cigarettes, cigars and other products have been used, they leave behind a residue on surfaces. This can build up over time and expose people to tobacco toxins.

A major misconception on e-cigarettes is also popular. The Food and Drug Administration tested various samples of the product and determined that they contained not only nicotine but levels of known carcinogens and toxic chemicals like diethylene glycol, a substance used in antifreeze. Lack of knowledge about e-cigarettes can lead to many difficulties when enforcing smoking prohibitions.

According to the Louisiana Adult Tobacco Survey, 2013, in the Hammond area 85.3 percent of adults are nonsmokers.

It is written in the ordinance that “There is no legal or constitutional ‘right to smoke.’ Business owners have no legal or constitutional right to expose their employees and customers to the toxic chemicals in secondhand smoke. On the contrary, employers have a common law duty to provide their workers with a workplace that is not unreasonably dangerous.”

“I am for healthy work environments, I do not believe working people should have to be exposed to secondhand smoke in order for them to support themselves and their families,” said Annette Baldwin, university counselor.

The full ordinance can be found on hammond.org.