Friday, September 08, 2006

Tell Mayor Street to Sign the Smoking Ban

From an email from PennEnvironment:

BACKGROUND After more than five years of debate, Philadelphia City Council finally passed the smoke-free workplace legislation this summer. On March 27th, the Philadelphia City Council's Public Health Committee passed Councilwoman Marian Tasco's legislation that would make Philadelphia smoke-free by prohibiting smoking in all workplaces in order to protect the health of our citizens and workers. This legislation passed on June 15, 2006 by a vote of 9-6, with council members Clarke, DiCicco, Goode, Kenney, Miller, Nutter Ramos, Reynolds Brown and Tasco voting in favor of this important public health proposal. Unfortunately, Philadelphia Mayor John Street is now hinting he may refuse to sign this legislation--after publicly stating that passing citywide, smoke-free legislation in the city is one of his top priorities. Councilman Nutter first proposed smoke-free legislation in 2000. At that time, far fewer municipalities had enacted smoke-free laws and the bill met strong opposition. In an attempt to work with members of the hospitality industry, the legislation became muddled with exemptions and eventually was put on the backburner before ever getting a vote in city council. Since then, a lot has changed.

In recent years a groundswell of support for smoke-free laws has developed in states and localities across the country. Nearly one-third of the U.S. population--or more than 90 million people--is now covered by strong smoke-free laws. Cities such as New York, Boston, Washington D.C., Los Angeles and Minneapolis have all passed comprehensive smoking bans, as well as our neighboring states of New Jersey and Delaware. As the numbers come back from places that have gone smoke-free, numerous careful scientific and economic analyses have shown that smoke-free laws do not hurt restaurant and bar patronage, employment, sales, or profits. In fact, in most cities the workplace smoking ban is credited with increased sales and creating new jobs as local residents who avoid smoky locales once again began going out to local bars and restaurants. For this reason, it isn't surprising that the Chamber of Commerce even supports this proposal. It is widely recognized that exposure to secondhand smoke causes disease, disability and death. Secondhand smoke contains over 4,000 chemicals and at least 69 carcinogens, including formaldehyde, cyanide, and arsenic. In addition to heart disease, secondhand smoke is proven to cause lung cancer and many serious respiratory illnesses. Here in Philadelphia, a broad alliance of public health groups, businesses, environmental groups and concerned citizens has come together in support of a smoke-free Philadelphia. For more information, check out the website, Yet until June 15, 2006, Philadelphia's City Council had refused to take action on this important public health proposal.

Now, Mayor Street is threatening to bring us back to square one and start all over by refusing to sign the smoke-free workplace legislation. So take a minute to ask Mayor Street to sign the smoke-free workplace legislation. Then, forward this to your friends and family in Philadelphia and ask them to do the same. To email the mayor, click on the link below or paste it into your web browser:

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