Edgewater, CO — The City Council of Edgewater is the latest leader for strong smoke free laws in Jefferson County, Colorado. The Council voted July 8, 2010, on a 5 – 2 vote to make outdoor customer service areas smoke-free; expanding smoke-free zones to 20 feet from all doorways; making the city’s parks and outdoor sporting events smoke-free; and, removing exemptions found in the State’s smoke-free law for indoor workplaces – tobacco retail stores, cigar bars, and small businesses. The ordinance will go into effect July 20, 2010.
“It’s about health. It’s about keeping our air clean for our visitors, our citizens, and our families” said Edgewater Mayor Bonnie McNulty.
“Edgewater has shown how much it values the health of its workers, residents, and visitors, as well as ensuring its youth and adults can enjoy more tobacco free environments for recreation,” said Lee Stiffler-Meyer, resident and leader of Tobacco-Free Edgewater for Health, the grassroots coalition working in support of the ordinance.
Edgewater continues Jefferson County’s leadership on supporting comprehensive smoke-free laws, free of the exemptions found in the State law. “The smoke-free movement in Colorado has been led by local communities, such as Arvada and Edgewater, which have proven to be role models for other communities” said Donna Viverette, of Jefferson County Public Health. “We hope more communities will follow Edgewater’s lead in protecting their workers and residents from the deadly harm of second-hand smoke.”
The Edgewater policy was a result of the dedicated commitment and work of the City Council, community and business members from Edgewater, Tobacco Free Edgewater for Health, Tobacco-Free Jeffco, and the Jefferson Country Public Health Tobacco Prevention Initiative Team.
For more information about how to get involved in smoke/tobacco-free efforts in your community, contact Jefferson County Public Health at 303-275-7555 or email Donna Viverette at email@example.com .
May 31, 2010 has been designated by the World Health Organization as World No Tobacco Day. The theme “Gender and Tobacco” points out the harmful effects the marketing of tobacco has had on women and girls worldwide. Tobacco use is responsible for more than two million premature deaths in the world each year. For more information on World No Tobacco Day, please visit the World Health Organization. For more information on tobacco companies’ marketing to youth, please see: : http://www.who.int/tobacco/wntd/2010/announcement/en/index.html
On May 3, 2010 several members of Tobacco-Free Wheat Ridge for Health sat in Council Chambers and witnessed a process that could secure Wheat Ridge’s role as a City committed to the health of its residents. By voting at this study session to include strong provisions in a proposed ordinance to address tobacco and secondhand smoke, the majority of Council took a stand to help save countless youth, workers and residents from the toll that tobacco takes every year. We commend the Wheat Ridge City Council for their leadership in making our community healthier for all of us.
Sadly, the mayor wasn’t in attendance at the May 3rd study session. He also wasn’t in attendance at the study session on October 5th, where several members of our coalition presented information about the health and economic benefits of strong local tobacco laws. Our members, representing Exempla Lutheran Medical Center, Wheat Ridge High School Students Working Against Tobacco, local business owners, residents and public health are perplexed that the mayor was quoted saying he will veto whatever Council puts forward on this issue. There’s nothing in the proposed ordinance that hasn’t already been passed and proven effective in thousands of cities across the US, and many in Colorado. For example, the ordinance includes the sidewalks and public access areas adjacent to hospitals, which is a provision that other Colorado communities with major hospitals already have in place (it doesn’t include “all public sidewalks”, as the Transcript erroneously printed). Arvada already has city-owned parks and trails in their ordinance, and Boulder’s law makes their bus shelters smoke-free. We know that these laws are almost 100% self- enforcing – just with signage – and that compliance problems and the need to ticket non-compliers actually decrease when these laws are strengthened, so concerns about use of valuable police resources are unwarranted. Unfortunately, the Transcript and several other publications continue to mislead people on these issues.
Most every Coloradan knows that it’s smart and healthier to avoid breathing secondhand smoke. For many of us, just a few minutes of breathing someone else’s smoke can bring on an asthma attack or severe breathing problems. For others it could send us to the Emergency Department to be treated for a cardiac or respiratory event that could ultimately send us to the morgue. Tobacco use is a serious addiction and Second-hand smoke is serious health threat! Together they remain top preventable causes of premature disease and death in our nation. Though the State’s Clean Indoor Air Act is a well-intentioned law, it has left too many of us continuing to be exposed to secondhand smoke when we do business, work or visit public places in Wheat Ridge or other communities that rely only on the State’s law to protect them. Most of us also know that the tobacco companies’ tactics are especially effective in getting young people to start using tobacco, and that simple policies that reduce youth access to tobacco are beneficial to all.
After input from community members and thoughtful discussion by City Council members, the ordinance being proposed in Wheat Ridge will protect workers and consumers from the dangers of second hand smoke exposure and reduce youth initiation to tobacco.
We are very supportive of these measures and are hopeful that City Council will pass the proposed ordinance and the Mayor will sign into law these provisions that will be of great benefit to all who live, work and visit our beautiful community in Wheat Ridge.
by Kay Johnson and Thomas Meiers, Co-Chairs of Tobacco-Free Wheat Ridge for Health
I am a new Wheat Ridge resident in Wheat Ridge and I support the Council and Mayor in moving forward with the ordinance to strengthen the city’s smoke free law and include provisions that will help reduce youth tobacco use.
Most people do not smoke. Most people obey the law. Most people who smoke want to quit. And, I would guess, most people that oppose this law are addicted individuals who are upset that the habit that they know is bad for them and everyone around them is slowly becoming more and more prohibited in public places. The science behind the harmful effects of secondhand smoke is indisputable. And, it has been shown that restricting where people can smoke helps those that want to quit, quit and stay quit.
There is no constitutional right to smoke. You may have heard from constituents who oppose this ordinance saying that it is encroaching on their rights. But, what about my right to breathe clean air? What about my right to live in an environment free of tobacco litter?
Although I am a Colorado native, I lived in California for several years and observed first hand the changed social norms around tobacco use in outdoor areas such as the beaches and parks. I witnessed a teenager politely point out the no smoking sign on the beach and ask a woman to put out her cigarette. The woman initially seemed irritated with the request, but she obliged, and even apologized that she didn’t know about the law. Valuable police resources were unnecessary.
Protecting the health of youth wherever possible is paramount. And regulating tobacco retailers is where to do this. Retailers that sell deadly products need to be strictly regulated. Liquor licenses are expensive and there are harsh penalties for those caught selling to minors. Why should tobacco be treated any differently? Those that don’t want to abide by retail laws can simply choose not to sell the product.
It would be ideal if those that used tobacco only did so when they were in the company of those that don’t mind the horrible stench and if every single cigarette butt was thrown away in trash receptacles. Unfortunately, this is far from the case. It is within local councils’ job responsibilities to protect the public’s health. I urge the Wheat Ridge City Council and Mayor to do the right thing.