Fix It Or Nix It

In State News on April 8, 2009 at 7:24 am

The smokefree workplace bill (HB 1213) that has been passed in the House and is now being considered in the Senate contains these exemptions.

Small workplaces: Exemptions for small workplaces (with 3 or fewer employees for example) present a serious problem for people working in small offices with bosses or coworkers who smoke. The provisions are unnecessary and discriminatory and are rarely strengthened down the line.

Private offices: Because most buildings have shared ventilation systems, smoke from a private office can travel throughout the building, exposing everyone in the building to the health hazards of secondhand smoke. In addition, nonsmoking employees and custodians who must enter the offices as part of their jobs, as well as members of the public who must enter them for business purposes, will be exposed to secondhand smoke.

Hospitality workplaces: Workers and patrons at restaurants, bars, casinos and other hospitality businesses should be fully protected. In the past, some workplaces were considered separately and exempted fully or partially from a smokefree law. Those days are over. With the abundant science about the dangers of secondhand smoke and public education surrounding the issue, exemptions for certain workplaces are no longer acceptable. Additionally, we now have an abundance of data showing that smokefree laws have no negative impact on business.

Here are several reasons why we want only a comprehensive smokefree workplace law in Indiana.

  • The so-called compromise that passed the House is all headline, no substance. It covers a lot of workplaces that are already smokefree but it excludes the workers who are most likely to be exposed to secondhand smoke. And it creates two classes of workers – those that deserve a healthy work environment and those that don’t.
  • It makes no sense for the Indiana General Assembly to recognize the serious health impact caused by secondhand smoke, but then fail to protect the most exposed groups of workers, such as bar and casino workers.
  • The best way to protect people’s health is to pass a comprehensive bill the first time. Examples from the local Indiana ordinances have shown that it’s very difficult to go back and fix a watered down ordinance once it has been passed. Well-intentioned lawmakers have passed weakened ordinances with the idea of coming back and strengthening them later. All of the comprehensive smokefree air laws that have been passed in Indiana passed the first time in comprehensive form — with the exception of Ft. Wayne. It took Ft. Wayne 10 years to go back
    and make their smokefree air ordinance comprehensive.
  • Partial measures work for politicians but not for health, communities, or businesses. Partial measures create an unlevel playing field and pit business against business. Like other communities, Indianapolis is now looking to fix its ordinance so it extends to all businesses.
  • Public opinion and expectations are changing rapidly. It would be irresponsible to accept a measure that would ultimately be a delay and obstruction to the final outcome of a smokefree law that covers all workplaces. The majority of Hoosiers already wants this outcome, and more and more will continue to ask for it. If the legislature does not act to protect all workers now, the issue will continue to be addressed each year until smokefree workplaces become a reality in Indiana.
  • We don’t measure health improvement solely on a legislative scorecard – this issue has already been progressing without the legislature. If the legislature doesn’t have the courage to give us all health protection from secondhand smoke, Indiana communities will continue to step up and protect their citizens.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: