Jan. 21, 2010

Jefferson City Considers Smoke Free Ordinance

Although several businesses in Jefferson City have banned smoking on their property, one anti-smoking coalition does not believe it's enough to keep the air clean.
The 'Smokefree Jefferson City' coalition gave the city council a report on Tuesday that showed how hazardous exposure to secondhand smoke is. The report contains results from a recent study the University of Missouri conducted. The coalition hopes the report will cause the city council to seriously consider an ordinance. Jefferson City is one of six remaining state capitals without a smoke-free ordinance.
The results showed places that allow smoking contain high levels of fine particulate matter (PM) pollution, which is harmful to the lungs. The study found the average PM level for public places that allowed smoking was almost sixteen times higher than the PM levels for smoke free places. Researchers also found that only two smoked cigarettes in a public place raises the PM levels to a hazardous level. 
Coalition member Felicia Poettgen said a smoke-free ordinance not only cleans up the air, but it also helps decrease heart problems. 
"The scientific evidence is consistent," said Poettgen. "There is a causal relationship between secondhand smoke and heart disease. We encourage our city council to consider a policy for smoke free workplaces and public places as a compelling, yet simple way to reduce heart attacks in our community."
One city council member said passing a smoke-free ordinance would not be an extreme decision but rather a logical step in the right direction. 
"When you go to a restaurant, you expect clean water," said city councilwoman Carrie Carroll. "You expect your food to be safe to eat and cooked to a certain temperature. So when I look at clean water and food, clean air is just a part of that. It's part of the whole environment."
The report is only the first step in the process of presenting an ordinance. Poettgen said the coalition will officially present the ordinance sometime in the spring. Until then, city council members will hold meetings to more thoroughly discuss the issues surrounding an ordinance.