Tobacco use will be banned in most outdoor public spaces across Hamilton, a move Fort Hamilton Hospital said should lower the city’s heart-attack rate, based on results in cities that have adopted similar legislation.
The legislation, approved unanimously, also should help eliminate future second-hand smoke ailments for infants, the elderly and others who won’t be experiencing as much tobacco smoke, according to Dr. Marcus Romanello, chief medical officer at Fort Hamilton Hospital.
Areas affected by the city’s new tobacco-free policy include all public parks, although there will be a designated smoking area in the new downtown Marcum Park for those attending concerts at the RiversEdge amphitheater; as well as all places of city employment and other city facilities, plus outside areas immediately surrounding city facilities.
Tobacco use also will be banned in municipally owned parking lots and garages; and streets, paths and sidewalks within parks.
The penalty is a $50 civil fine. The new law takes effect Sept. 22, but city employees for at least six months plan to issue warnings to familiarize people to the policy.
Butler County recently was ranked 48th healthiest among 88 Ohio counties, largely because of drug overdoses, adult obesity and adult smoking.
Romanello, whose background is in emergency medicine, said the new policy will particularly help those unable to protect themselves from second-hand smoke, such as infants and children
“I’m speaking on behalf of the over 1,000 staff, nurses, physicians, including cardiologists, pulmonologists, oncologists at Fort Hamilton Hospital,” Romanello said. “For second-hand smoke, the evidence has become incontrovertible. Breathing in any one of the thousands of chemicals, hundreds of them listed as known carcinogens, can set off a chain reaction of inflammation in the lungs and spreading throughout the body.
This has been linked to a direct cause of heart attacks, he said.
Studies have found that in cities that have adopted smoking legislation, heart-attack rates dropped, he said.
“You have an opportunity to make an impact,” he said, noting that already this year alone, Fort Hamilton alone has diagnosed more than 40 new cases of lung cancer.
Many local governments and college campuses nationwide have adopted such polices, partly to reduce the health-care costs of their employees, but the policy itself will cost money, at first.
The cost of creating and installing approximately 500 signs alerting people to the law is expected to be about $40,000, with the signs being created by city employees.
According to a staff report to council, “The City of Hamilton’s strategic vision is to become a purposeful destination for working, living, and playing. Critical to this vision is the City’s responsibility to ensure every public place, both indoor and outdoor, is safe for use by any resident of or visitor to the City. This responsibility includes minimizing public health risks wherever feasible.”