July 31, 2013
Many Jackson County businesses recognize the dangers of secondhand smoke and are taking extra measures to protect the health of their employees and customers by making their businesses entirely tobacco free. The Jackson County Tobacco Education Committee (JCTEC) congratulates local businesses on making an investment in the health of the community.
Local businesses that have already adopted tobacco free worksite policies include the Altus Chamber of Commerce, The Cotton Patch, The Enchanted Door, Johnson’s Vacuum Shop and Sewing Basket, Abby Lane, Petal Pusher’s, Bunkerhill Pharmacy, Advantage Reality, Belles & Beaux, The Booterie and Lady Austin’s. Being tobacco-free means that these businesses will not allow use of any form of tobacco by employees or customers in their buildings or on their property, including company owned vehicles.
Jackson County Memorial Hospital, Lawtonka Counseling Center and Western Oklahoma State College have all had policies for several years.
You may have seen smokers huddled right outside the entrance to your favorite restaurant getting a few more puffs before they go in. What you may not have realized is that it’s against the law for them to smoke within 15 feet of a public entrance. But, restaurants are not the only places that have rules about smoking near entrances and exits. In 2002, the state legislature voted to make all state owned or operated buildings smoke-free, including all space within 25 feet of any entrance, exit or air intake. The passage of the Smoking in Public Places and Indoor Workplaces Act in 2003 declared county and city owned or operated facilities smoke-free and included a 25 foot rule as well. This act also mandated that restaurants had to establish a 15 foot smoke-free zone outside all public entrances once the law became effective for them 2006. The Smoking in Public Places and Indoor Workplaces Act also specifically states that businesses have the right to prohibit smoking should they choose to do so. Since then, many businesses have elected to be tobacco free or to adopt a 25 foot rules themselves.
Rules like these are very important in protecting people from secondhand smoke. About 700 Oklahomans die each year due to secondhand smoke; Oklahomans who didn’t even smoke themselves. That’s about the same number of deaths that are caused by motor vehicle crashes each year. There are many dangers associated with secondhand smoke and there is no safe level of secondhand smoke exposure. Even just walking through smoke to get into a business can be harmful. According to the CDC, breathing secondhand smoke is immediately harmful to the cardiovascular system and can increase the risk of a heart attack. Secondhand smoke can also cause asthma attacks and ear infections in children.
JCTEC works to educate the community about the dangers of tobacco use and secondhand smoke. To learn more please contact Tonya Pogue at (580) 482-7308.