Smokefree DC is a citizen-based group whose goal is to promote smokefree environments in Washington, DC.

Neighborhood advisory council condemns D.C. Council's weakening of smokefree law

Here’s another silver lining to the day’s events: ANC 3F, whose treasurer is by Bob Summersgill, a member of Smokefree DC’s board, passed a resolution tonight opposing the Council’s weakening of the smokefree law. Here is the text:

Advisory Neighborhood Commission 3F

Resolution opposing the Special Event Exemption for Cigar Smoking

Whereas, the Surgeon General has determined* that secondhand smoke exposure causes disease and premature death in people who do not smoke; and

Whereas, the National Toxicology Program estimates that at least 250 chemicals in secondhand smoke are known to be toxic or carcinogenic; and secondhand smoke contains more than 50 cancer-causing chemicals including formaldehyde, benzene, vinyl chloride, arsenic, ammonia, and hydrogen cyanide; and

Whereas, secondhand smoke has been designated as a known human carcinogen by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the National Toxicology Program, and the International Agency for Research on Cancer; and

Whereas, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health has concluded that secondhand smoke is an occupational carcinogen; and

Whereas, concentrations of many cancer-causing and toxic chemicals are higher in secondhand smoke than in the smoke inhaled by smokers; and

Whereas, breathing secondhand smoke for even a short time can have immediate adverse effects on the cardiovascular system and interferes with the normal functioning of the heart, blood, and vascular systems in ways that increase the risk of a heart attack; and

Whereas, the scientific evidence indicates that there is no risk-free level of exposure to secondhand smoke; and

Whereas, the D.C.’s Smokefree Workplace Law, “The Department of Health Functions Clarification Amendment Act of 2006″ ended most indoor workplace hazards from secondhand smoke; and

Whereas, the American Cancer Society** announced that the District of Columbia now has one of the lowest smoking rates in the country at 15.2 percent, a drop of five percentage points from 24.3 percent in the four years since the passage of the Smokefree Workplace Law; and

Whereas, the decline in adult smoking rates means there are an estimated 23,500 fewer adult smokers in the D.C. area and 6,200 fewer future premature deaths from smoking; and

Whereas, as a result of this decline, the District will save more than $223 million in future health care costs from tobacco-related illnesses; and

Whereas, the “Special Event Exemption Amendment Act of 2011″ was added the Fiscal Year 2012 Budget Support Act of 2011 without a committee hearing or public comment and is not a budget measure; and

Whereas, the “Special Event Exemption Amendment Act of 2011″ was passed to allow cigar smoking events in 79 hotels; and

Whereas, D.C. has numerous outdoor venues and six bars with smoking exemptions to accommodate smokers; and

Whereas, the “Special Event Exemption Amendment Act of 2011″ will directly endanger the health and lives of people who work in hotels; and

Whereas the “Special Event Exemption Amendment Act of 2011″ will undermine the benefits of the Smokefree Workplace Law; and

Whereas, the technical correction bill limits the exemption to at least 25 hotels “…with a ballroom or special event space catering space with an occupancy of 500+…” despite the spurious claim that only 2 hotels met that criteria; and

Whereas, the technical correction bill limits the exemption to a “special charity boxing event which benefits children’s charities and permits cigar smoking,” but continues to undermine the Smokefree Workplace Law and endanger the health and lives of people who work in hotels; and

Whereas, the Fight Night charity event does not need to include cigar smoking to raise money for children and would not be lost to other jurisdictions, which also ban indoor smoking; and

Whereas there appears to be no social, economic or health reason to permit this exemption;

Therefore be it resolved that Advisory Neighborhood Commission 3F opposes the Special Event Exemption Amendment Act of 2011 and urges the Council of the District of Columbia to repeal the exemption.

ANC 3F authorizes Commission Bob Summersgill to testify before the Council of the District of Columbia if needed

Approved by a vote of 6-0-0 at a duly noticed public meeting of ANC 3F on July 12, 2011, with a quorum present (a quorum being four).

Karen Perry, Acting Chair ______________________________

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