The six regional hospitals that serve the city of Portage publicly support the smokefree air ordinance being considered by the city council. Each hospital CEO signed a joint letter of support that was sent to the council members on Monday, June 21st . Northwest Health, Healthlinc, Northshore Health Centers, Porter-Starke Services, Inc., St. Mary Medical Center, and Franciscan Health Michigan City co-signed the letter.
Hospitals and health care facilities bear witness to the significant health burden secondhand smoke places on communities like Portage. Smokefree laws are proven to save lives and prevent disease. Hospital admissions to emergency departments for heart attacks among non-smokers dropped by 59% in Monroe County after its local smokefree air law went into effect.
“We commend our health leaders for prioritizing Portage. They join the growing list of organizations like Portage Custom Wear, Village Carpet & Tiles, Inc and Portage Health Center who support Breathe Easy Portage’s vision of a smokefree Portage.” states Carrie Higgins, Program Director of the Tobacco Education and Prevention Coalition for Porter County.
The Breathe Easy Portage campaign has been working to create a healthier Portage for folks to live, work and play. The goal of the coalition is to protect all workers of Portage. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of death, disease, and disability in the US. Each year, around 443,000 people die from smoking or exposure to secondhand smoke, and another 8.6 million suffer from a serious illness from smoking.
“Young and curious, I tried smoking cigarettes when I was in the bars due to how often I was around it. Although smoking for me never became an addiction, I wonder how many times this is exactly how others start.” said Shannon Hough, BSN, RN and Portage employee whose first job was waiting tables in a restaurant that allowed smoking.
Everyone deserves the right to breathe smokefree air. That’s why the coalition and its supporters believe passing this ordinance is a no-brainer. The best smokefree laws are strong simple and fair. Exemptions to these laws expose people to secondhand smoke and create challenges with enforcement. The coalition and growing list of supportive Portage residents urge the city council to pass the introduced smokefree ordinance.