Should Springfield ban smoking in cars with kids?

A smoking ban in cars with children in Springfield could be problematic because it would only be in effect in the city limits, local leaders said, but they’re willing to talk about it.

The city of Honolulu sparked a national debate on Oct. 18 when the city’s council voted unanimously to enact a ban on smoking and use of electronic cigarettes in cars when a child 17 or younger is in the vehicle.

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The ban is aimed at protecting minors from the dangers of secondhand smoke. But could such a ban ever come to Springfield?

Mayor Warren R. Copeland said it’s something he would take into consideration but a change of that magnitude has never been presented to him before.

“There hasn’t been a precedent set for something like that before,” he said. “But I’m always willing to talk about something that would have an effect on the city once I’m more informed.”

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More than 20 percent of Clark County residents are smokers, according to the 2016 County Health Rankings. The health district’s 2015 Behavior Risk Factor Surveillance System Survey, which polled about 800 Clark County residents with land-line telephones, showed 45 percent of adults in Clark County have smoked at least 100 cigarettes in their lifetime.

The problem with a law such as the one passed in Honolulu is that it only affects people within the city limits, Copeland said, so people who travel outside of Springfield wouldn’t be subject to it. A law that would affect all of Clark County could be passed, but it would have to go through the state of Ohio itself.

“It’s a lot more complicated than people think it is,” he said.

Presently, under Chapter 523 of Springfield’s codified ordinances, smoking is banned inside buildings owned by the city.

Ohio’s indoor smoking ban, which was enacted in 2006, encompasses more than 280,000 indoor public spaces and places of employment, but doesn’t cover what people are able to do on private property such as homes.

But the idea of stricter smoking laws isn't entirely foreign in Springfield. In 2016, the Clark County Combined Health District released their Community Health Improvement Plan, which outlined a proposal to increase the minimum smoking age in Springfield and New Carlisle to 21.

Clark County Health Commissioner Charles Patterson said in an e-mail the initiative, titled Tobacco 21, is still on the table for consideration by Springfield’s government, and the health district plans on raising the issue again next spring.

“The health district supports the current Smoke-Free Workplace Act and the Tobacco 21 initiative,” Patterson said. “We would certainly support additional efforts to reduce second-hand smoke for all of our citizens, especially our future generations.”

The youth-based anti-smoking group STAND is presently requesting the Springfield City Board of Education consider designating the city school district campuses as smoke-free zones as part of the health district’s larger plan.


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