Coalition presents revision to smoking ban

By Kenneth E. Bobb

Let me introduce myself: I am Kenneth E. Bobb, M.D., representing the Smoke-Free Seymour Coalition. I am a retired family physician and the former Jackson County Health Officer with the Jackson County Health Department.

As the health officer, I testified before the Seymour City Council in 2006 to encourage the passage of the first smoking ordinance. I have worked with and represent the Smoke-Free Seymour Coalition since its inception in late 2015. I have long been interested in the individual and collective overall health of the citizens of Jackson County.

As a result of that interest, I have monitored the health statistics made available from the Indiana Department of Health, Health and Human Services at the federal level and particularly to the private sector reports generated by the Robert Woods Johnson Foundation, which compiles a report on every county in the United States.

Annually, the foundation makes available a county profile based on health outcome statistics. These measures compare the general health of one county to another. In Indiana, Jackson County’s ranking is 60th of the 92 counties with Bartholomew ranked at 34th, Monroe County is 8th, etc. That number means that there are 32 counties in Indiana less healthy than we but 59 that are more healthy.

Presently, in excess of 20 percent of the population in Seymour does use tobacco products (which means that 80 percent don’t). If we could reduce the rate of smoking in Seymour, we could increase the general health of Jackson County.

The Smoke-Free Seymour Coalition will be presenting a proposed revision to the current ordinance to the Seymour City Council in November.

Two town hall meetings have been scheduled for 7 p.m. Oct. 11 and Oct. 26 at the citizen center on South Chestnut Street to discuss the proposed changes to be presented and to hear from the public on those changes.

The ordinance changes will address the following items:

  1. Changing the no smoking from the current eight feet to 25 feet from the public entrance to restaurants and public buildings.
  2. No smoking in public gatherings of 50 or more people
  3. No smoking in bars or clubs
  4. The inclusion of all electronic delivery devices in the smoking ban

The purpose of this ordinance with these revisions is to protect as many non-smokers from the adverse effect of secondhand smoke as possible. It has long been proven that secondhand smoke causes and contributes to cancer and vascular diseases.

This updated revision to the present smoking ordinance in no way restricts the right of the smoker to smoke. It does however restrict where that person can smoke.

This new proposed ordinance would not have a negative impact on bars and clubs because it would cover all bars and clubs.

In surveying surrounding communities that have adopted the no smoking in bars and clubs, a smoking ban has not proven to be detrimental to their business volume or profit.

I contend that the patrons who consume beverages of these establishments will continue to consume those beverages but they will smoke in a designated area rather than in the general public area. This would allow those who have decided not to frequent that establishment because of the smoke to become patrons.

I encourage all citizens who are concerned about health, the economics of Jackson County and specifically, the health of Seymour to come to the own hall meetings and before the City Council to express their support of this ordinance revision.

Dr. Kenneth E. Bobb is representing the Smoke-Free Seymour Coalition. He is a retired family physician and the former health officer with the Jackson County Health Department.