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File / Associated Press

Verbatim: Indiana has ‘nothing but smoke and mirrors’

Statement issued Friday by the American Cancer Society, American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, American Heart Association, American Lung Association and Americans for Nonsmokers' Rights:

INDIANAPOLIS – As leaders in the fight against tobacco use, the leading preventable cause of death in the nation and in Indiana, our organizations are extremely disappointed with the version of the smokefree workplace law that has passed the Indiana House and Senate. It is filled with exemptions, including for bars and taverns, which will leave too many Hoosier workers unprotected from the deadly effects of secondhand smoke.

As passed, this legislation represents the weakest smoking law in the Midwest, and one of the worst in the nation.

Unfortunately, the bill that emerged was so riddled with exemptions that it is nothing but smoke and mirrors when it comes to protecting the health of Indiana workers. Compromise that protects the health of Indiana workers is certainly possible, and we have never advocated an all-or-nothing position. But this bill is not a compromise – it is a surrender for the tens of thousands of Hoosier workers who will be left unprotected from harmful secondhand smoke.

The Indiana General Assembly has blatantly disregarded the volume of health and economic information that was presented during their debate. They have ignored the powerful evidence from the 2006 US Surgeon General’s report stating that secondhand smoke contains hundreds of toxic chemicals, including at least 69 that cause cancer, and there is no safe level of exposure to it. They have ignored the calls for effective action from Governor Daniels and Indiana’s health commissioner, who have both said the scientific evidence is compelling and they would like to see a bill passed with as few exemptions as possible. They also ignored Indiana University’s Bowen Research Center, which calculated the cost of secondhand smoke to Indiana at $1.3 billion annually. And most importantly, they have ignored the people of Indiana, both Republican and Democrat, who overwhelmingly support a strong smokefree air law for Indiana. Based on the outcome, none of this seemed to matter.

Our organizations will continue to work to protect the health and right to breathe clean air of all Indiana workers and residents. We cannot and will not walk away from a proven strategy – smokefree workplace laws – that will save more than 1,100 lives each year in Indiana from secondhand smoke. To this end, we will continue to advocate for strong smokefree air laws at the local level that will protect all Hoosiers from dangerous secondhand smoke.

We would like to thank Representatives Eric Turner and Charlie Brown and Senators Beverly Gard and Vi Simpson for their diligent work in trying to pass a strong smokefree workplace bill. Unfortunately, politics didn’t allow for that.

The American Cancer Society is dedicated to eliminating cancer as a major health problem by saving lives, diminishing suffering and preventing cancer through research, education, advocacy and service. Founded in 1913 and with national headquarters in Atlanta, the Society has 13 regional Divisions and local offices in 3,400 communities, involving millions of volunteers across the United States. For more information anytime, call toll free 1-800-ACS-2345 or visit www.cancer.org.

American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network is the nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy affiliate organization of the American Cancer Society, dedicated to eliminating cancer as a major health problem. ACS CAN works to encourage lawmakers, candidates and government officials to support laws and policies that will make cancer a top national priority. ACS CAN gives ordinary people extraordinary power to fight cancer. For more information, visit www.ascan.org.

The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids is a leading force in the fight to reduce tobacco use and its deadly toll in the United States and around the world. Their vision: A future free of the death and disease caused by tobacco. TFK works to save lives by advocating for public policies that prevent kids from smoking, help smokers quit and protect everyone from secondhand smoke. For more information, visit www.tobaccofreekids.org.

The American Heart Association is devoted to saving people from heart disease and stroke – America’s No. 1 and No. 4 killers. We team with millions of volunteers to fund innovative research, fight for stronger public health policies, and provide lifesaving tools and information to prevent and treat these diseases. The Dallas-based association is the nation’s oldest and largest voluntary organization dedicated to fighting heart disease and stroke. For more information, visit www.heart.org.

Now in its second century, the American Lung Association is the leading organization working to save lives by improving lung health and preventing lung disease. With your generous support, the American Lung Association is “Fighting for Air” through research, education and advocacy. For more information about the American Lung Association, a Charity Navigator Four Star Charity and holder of the Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Guide Seal, or to support the work it does, call 1-800-LUNG-USA (1-800-586-4872) or visit www.lung.org.

Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights (ANR) is a leading national lobbying organization dedicated to nonsmokers’ rights, with more than 30 years’ experience in helping communities eliminate secondhand smoke. For more information, visit www.no-smoke.org.

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