You may or may not agree with her, but Melina Kennedy has made no bones about her position on the comprehensive air ordinance aka the Marion County workplace smoking ban that may or may not be voted on tomorrow evening at the City-County Council meeting downtown.
It took smoke-filled rooms and back door politics for Mayor Greg Ballard to communicate his position on the issue. According to Councillor Angela Mansfield, he repeatedly turned down opportunities to meet with the co-sponsors of the proposal. In a closed door meeting, Ballard finally communicated that to the Republican caucus that he would be vetoing the bill if it passed. Subtext was that a no vote would help the big guy save the trouble of utilizing that rarely used veto stamp in his office. This came after he apparently supported the ban in 2007 as candidate Greg Ballard.
Instead of using back door old political methods, Melina Kennedy penned a piece for the Indianapolis Star putting her position in writing in the state's most-read newspaper. Here is a link to the op-ed piece.
"I support the passage of the comprehensive smoke-free workplace ordinance before our City-County Council. In doing so, I understand the debate about undue interference from government in the lives of citizens. And I agree as a basic principle that just because something might be good or healthy for you doesn't mean the government should mandate that you do it.
However, that argument loses most of its force when the activity threatens the health of others, as in the case of secondhand smoke for patrons and workers in establishments where smoking is still permitted.
According to the American Cancer Society, every year secondhand smoke causes the lung cancer-related deaths of about 3,400 nonsmokers and 150,000 to 300,000 lung infections in children younger than 18 months, and increases the instance of pregnant women giving birth to low-weight babies. Moreover, according to the 2006 U.S. Surgeon General's report, scientific evidence proves there is absolutely no safe level of secondhand smoke exposure.
As for the proposed smoke-free ordinance, I believe there are three sound reasons to support its passage.
First, as a former deputy mayor for economic development, I have seen first hand how efforts aimed at making Indianapolis a healthier city help attract new businesses and new jobs to the city. Companies understand that a healthier city means lower health-care costs and less time away from work. Along with other quality-of-life initiatives, it also puts us on a list of increasingly progressive cities where talented people want to stay and work. Given this, it is easy to understand why many local businesses and the Indianapolis Chamber of Commerce support the ordinance. In a struggling economy, a proposal that will make Indianapolis a better competitor in the fight for jobs merits support.
Second, Indianapolis already took the interim step of passing a smoke-free ordinance with exceptions a few years ago. We should complete that journey. In fact, other Indiana cities have already gone further than Indianapolis. Indianapolis should lead our state, not follow.
And third, in a world where bitter partisanship increasingly seems sadly the norm, this ordinance has bipartisan council sponsorship from Republicans Ben Hunter and Barbara Malone and Democrats Jose Evans and Angela Mansfield. We should embrace the opportunity to work together and compromise on something that will move the city forward.
As parents, we should do what we can to offer our children and grandchildren a healthy city in which to grow up, be educated and work. I support a smoke-free Indianapolis, and I hope our council will too."