Tobacco-Free Kids Action Fund Endorses Melina Kennedy for Indianapolis Mayor

Aug 04, 2011, 10:17 ET from Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids Action Fund

Kennedy agrees with 70% of voters that it's time for Indianapolis to go smoke-free

WASHINGTON, Aug. 4, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- In recognition of her commitment to public health and pledge to sign a comprehensive smoke-free law, the Tobacco-Free Kids Action Fund is proud to endorse Melina Kennedy for Mayor of Indianapolis.

Kennedy is the only candidate for mayor with a clear commitment to supporting and signing a comprehensive smoke-free law that applies to all workplaces and public places, including all restaurants and bars.

In contrast, Mayor Greg Ballard has been the major obstacle to passing such a law. After stating in 2007, while a candidate for mayor, that he "would support any legislation to limit the impact of secondhand smoke," Ballard in 2009 threatened to veto a comprehensive smoke-free law if the City-County Council passed it, according to The Indianapolis Star. Star editorials called Ballard "the biggest obstacle to passage" of the law and "the most disappointing figure in this entire debate."

"As a former Deputy Mayor for Economic Development and now as a candidate, Melina Kennedy understands that going smoke-free is good for health and good for business in Indianapolis. She has been a strong advocate for protecting families and workers from the proven dangers of secondhand smoke. She understands that it is time for Indianapolis to protect everyone's right to breathe clean air and join the list of great cities that are smoke-free," said Matthew L. Myers, President of the Tobacco-Free Kids Action Fund.

"For the last four years, Mayor Ballard has stood in the way of protecting the health of all Indianapolis workers and customers. Indianapolis doesn't need any more excuses. Workers and families need a mayor who will make sure that a comprehensive smoke-free law gets on the books in Indianapolis. Melina Kennedy will provide that leadership," Myers said.

By passing a smoke-free law that covers all restaurants and bars, Indianapolis would join more than 600 U.S. cities that have such laws. Most cities in the Midwest, including Chicago, Cleveland, Columbus, Minneapolis-St. Paul, and Milwaukee, are smoke-free. Indianapolis business leaders have argued this puts the city at a competitive disadvantage in attracting conventions, businesses, workers and tourists looking for a healthy, smoke-free environment.

A 2010 poll found that 70 percent of Indianapolis voters support a law making workplaces, including bars and restaurants, smoke-free. The poll found broad, bipartisan support for the law, including from large majorities of men and women, whites and African-Americans, and Democratic, Republican and Independent voters across the city.

In addition to endorsing Melina Kennedy for mayor, the Tobacco-Free Kids Action Fund is examining the positions taken by candidates for the City-County Council and may make endorsements in those races as well.

The need for comprehensive smoke-free laws is clear. In issuing his 2006 groundbreaking report on secondhand smoke, U.S. Surgeon General Richard Carmona stated, "The debate is over. The science is clear: Secondhand smoke is not a mere annoyance, but a serious health hazard that causes premature death and disease in children and nonsmoking adults."

Secondhand smoke contains more than 7,000 chemicals, including hundreds that are toxic and at least 69 that cause cancer. The Surgeon General found that secondhand smoke causes lung cancer, heart disease, respiratory illnesses, low birth weight and sudden infant death syndrome. The Surgeon General also found that secondhand smoke is responsible for tens of thousands of deaths in the United States each year, there is no risk-free level of exposure, and only smoke-free laws provide effective protection from secondhand smoke.

The evidence is also clear that smoke-free laws protect health without harming business. As the Surgeon General concluded, "Evidence from peer-reviewed studies shows that smoke-free policies and regulations do not have an adverse impact on the hospitality industry."

The Tobacco-Free Kids Action Fund is a non-partisan 501(c)(4) nonprofit organization affiliated with, but separate from the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit. The Action Fund works to reduce the devastating toll of tobacco use and secondhand smoke nationally and in Indiana by mounting advocacy and electoral campaigns in support of policies that prevent and reduce tobacco use.

Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids
1400 I (Eye) Street NW, Suite 1200
Washington, DC 20005
202-296-5427 fax

SOURCE Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids Action Fund