Tuesday, October 13, 2009


Smoke Free Indy Calls on City-County Council to Adopt Comprehensive Measure

INDIANAPOLIS – Amid the backdrop of a now smoke-free stage at a downtown Indianapolis nightclub, results of an air quality study were announced that revealed the level of indoor air pollution is 11 times higher in Indianapolis venues that permit smoking compared to smoke-free establishments.

The study, conducted in March 2009, measured indoor air quality in 10 workplaces in Indianapolis, including bars, restaurants, nightclubs and off-track betting sites. Each of the locations allows smoking indoors.

“The findings of this study reveal that the level of fine particulate air pollution is very unhealthy. In fact, this level of pollution is 11 times higher than smoke-free venues, and 12 times higher than outdoor pollution levels in Marion County,” said Tim Filler, a spokesperson for Smoke Free Indy. “The data clearly shows the disparity in the air we breathe in workplaces in Indianapolis. Workers who are not protected from secondhand smoke by the current law, like bar and nightclub employees, have their health jeopardized every day, while many other Indianapolis workers breathe freely in smoke-free workplaces…everyone deserves the same protection from on-the-job exposure to secondhand smoke.”

The results come as the Indianapolis City-County Council considers a comprehensive smoke-free workplace ordinance that would include all workplaces, including bars, restaurants, bowling alleys and membership clubs.

The study, completed by Buffalo, N.Y.-based Roswell Park Cancer Institute, also indicated that employees in the Indianapolis venues that permitted smoking were exposed to levels of air pollution three times higher than safe annual levels, as established by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. This was due solely to their occupational exposure to tobacco smoke.

The concentration of fine particulate air pollution, PM2.5 was measured with a TSI SidePak AM510 Personal Aerosol Monitor. The unit captures particulate matter in the air smaller than 2.5 microns in diameter. Particulates of this size are often released in significant amounts from burning cigarettes, are easily inhaled deep into the lungs, and
are known to cause a variety of adverse health effects, including cardiovascular and respiratory morbidity and death.

“As a physician, concerned with the health of my patients, it is imperative that the public be made of aware of these risks and that we do everything we can to create an environment where people don't have to worry about being exposed to secondhand smoke,” said Christopher Doehring, M.D., a family physician.

In terms of the work environment, the owner of Crackers Comedy Club, Ruth-Anne Bunting, says the difference is “night and day” in terms of the effect that a smoke-free club atmosphere is having on patrons and employees.

“I'm not losing anything in the way of business because of this decision and what's more, our patrons don't have to worry about going home selling like smoke and, even better, our employees don't feel as though they have to compromise their health for a paycheck, added Bunting.

For John Page, another of Bunting’s employees, the job of earning a living is now much easier.

“Just knowing that I don't have to go into work and face all that smoke is a relief…it leaves me looking forward to doing an even better job of serving our customers,” explained Page, who works as the club’s manager.

Under the direction of Miranda Spitznagle, director of program evaluation, ITPC worked in conjunction with the Roswell Park Cancer Institute to collect the data as part of the organization's ongoing evaluation efforts on the impact of smoke free air policy and secondhand smoke exposure on workers across Indianapolis and Marion County.

“This study gives us data that secondhand smoke is harming people right here in Indianapolis,” explains Spitznagle. “Rather than trying to convince people with data from faraway places outside of our state, we can now show Hoosiers the harmful effects of secondhand smoke in the exact places where they work and play.”

Roswell Park Cancer Institute (RPCI), founded in 1898, is the nation's first cancer research, treatment and education center and is the only National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer center in Upstate New York. For more information, visit RPCI’s Web site at http://www.roswellpark.org/.

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