Somerset’s law prohibiting indoor smoking in public places and workplaces is in jeopardy. For nearly a decade, it has protected employees, residents and kids, and visitors from secondhand smoke.
Now, some city council members want to create a loophole for cigar bars that would allow indoor smoking. Cigar smoke has higher levels of cancer-causing substances and more tar than cigarettes. Tobacco smoke, including secondhand smoke, is unhealthy for everyone.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there is no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke. It is also a fact that smoke migrates into adjacent rooms, buildings and even residences. Ventilation systems might reduce odor, but they cannot eliminate the dangerous invading particles and toxins.
This loophole could also send the false message to kids that cigars are safer or a status symbol, and entertainment options like golf simulators in these businesses are sure to attract younger people. Somerset does not need a whole new generation addicted to nicotine and at risk of fatal diseases like lung cancer, COPD and heart attacks.
Everyone deserves the right to breathe smoke-free air. The current law is popular and effective, and 87% of guests prefer smoke-free hospitality venues. A business linked to an addictive product with health risks and associated costs is not an economic development strategy the city should pursue.
For years, Somerset has been a leader in strong smoke-free policy. Let’s not go backward now. Tell your city council member to vote NO on September 27.
DR. TIMOTHY MULLETT of the University of Kentucky is one of the state's leading cardiothoracic surgeons and is nationally known for his work in tobacco interdiction. Mullett is the Chair of the Commission on Cancer of the American College of Surgeons.