One of the simplest, most effective ways to protect public health is to insure clean indoor air. In the past five years, thousands of state and local governments across the country have enacted smoke-free workplace regulations. This year, Western Upper Peninsula District Health Department will implement a smoke-free regulation in its five county district. The regulation will prohibit smoking inside public places and worksites, with the exception of bars, restaurants and tribal properties, which are exempted from local regulation by state law.
According to the Michigan Department of Community Health, secondhand smoke is the second leading cause of preventable death in the state, claiming the lives of 2,510 residents every year. And, this year, the U.S. Surgeon General released a report entitled The Health Consequences of Involuntary Exposure to Tobacco Smoke which states that secondhand smoke causes premature death and disease in children and adults who do not smoke. “Scientific evidence shows there is no risk-free level of exposure to secondhand smoke; even short term exposure has immediate adverse effects on the cardiovascular system,” said Dr. Gail Shebuski, Health Department Medical Director. “The Surgeon General reports the only way to protect non-smokers from exposure is to eliminate smoking indoors.”
In Michigan, local health departments are authorized under the Michigan Public Health Code to adopt regulations to protect the public health. The regulation must also be approved by county governing boards. Western Upper Peninsula District Health Department encompasses the five counties of Houghton, Keweenaw, Ontonagon, Baraga and Gogebic, and a smoke free regulation will protect all their residents from second-hand smoke. “This is not a smokers’ rights issue; it is a public health issue,” said Guy St. Germain, Health Officer/Administrator. “We are not working to ban smoking, but we want to protect the rights of those who choose not to smoke. The people who live and work in our communities deserve to breathe clean air.”
The Western U.P. District Health Department Clean Indoor Air Regulation is to be adopted by the Board of Health in January, and must then be approved by each of the five counties in the health district. Copies of the full ordinance can be by clicking this link.