Governor Ruth Ann Minner Signs Landmark Ban On Smoking In Delawareâ€™s Indoor Public Places
Wilmington - Governor Ruth Ann Minner Friday put her signature on a measure to ban smoking from most indoor public places in Delaware beginning Nov. 27, 2002, thus improving the health of Delawareans for generations to come by protecting residents and chi
Governor Ruth Ann Minner signs unprecendented ban on indoor public smoking.In a ceremony in Wilmingtonâ€™s Rodney Square, Gov. Minner signed Senate Bill 99, making Delaware one of a handful of states in the nation to enact a comprehensive and landmark smoking ban that includes restaurants and bars.
â€œAs a state, as a nation and as a people, we are constantly growing, evolving and learning. There are many activities and items and substances we once thought of as harmless, and we now know better. Smoking and secondhand smoke now fall into that category,â€ Gov. Minner said. â€œAs a government, we can never stop people from engaging in risky behavior themselves. But we can and should step in when that behavior endangers the health and well-being of other people.
Gov. Minner, who called on the General Assembly in her January State of the State address to pass a smoking ban this year, also said she did not hesitate to approve Senate Bill 99 despite the fact that the state may lose revenue due to the impact of the bill on the stateâ€™s slots gaming facilities.
â€œSome have said that it was shortsighted to pass a smoking ban that may â€“ in fact, almost certainly will â€“ cause the state to lose revenue,â€ Gov. Minner said. â€œAs Governor, I was faced with a choice between the health of Delawareans for decades to come on one hand and having to work a little harder to make next yearâ€™s budget balance on the other. Let me tell you â€“ that is not at all a hard choice for this Governor to make.â€
Lieutenant Governor John C. Carney Jr. said, â€œThe signing of the Clean Indoor Air Act will go a long way to protecting Delawareans from the harmful effects of secondhand smoke to their health. As Chairman of the Delaware Health Care Commission, I feel that it is critical that we do everything we can to reduce the risk of cancer, heart disease and other chronic diseases in our state.â€
State Senator David McBride, one of the lead Senate sponsors of S.B. 99, said, â€œThis law is the right thing to do for the First State. It will be the most protective law in the nation against the harmful effects of secondhand smoke.â€
State Senator Patricia Blevins, the other lead Senate sponsor, said, â€œThis is landmark legislation to protect the health of Delawareans â€“ now and for generations to come. This was only possible because of the enormous groundswell of grassroots public support and it was gratifying to see democracy in action in that way.â€
State Representative Deborah D. Hudson, one of the two lead sponsors of the bill in the House of Representatives, said, â€œNever before have I seen a bill so actively supported by so many Delaware citizens. People of all ages, all political affiliations, smokers and non-smokers, took the time to contact their elected officials. It is because of their persistence and diligence that we have one of the most stringent Clean Air bills in the nation.â€
State Representative Robert J. Valihura, Jr., the other lead sponsor of the bill in the House, said, â€œI, too, am grateful for the amount of public support this legislation has received. Our reason for supporting SB 99 has been based solely on the need to improve the health of our citizens. Delaware has one of the highest cancer death rates in the nation, and this legislation will go a long way toward lessening this health problem. Secondhand smoke is now being treated like any other environmental pollutant, and I thank the Governor for doing the right thing by signing Senate Bill 99.â€
Dr. D. Allan Waterfield, chairman of IMPACT: Delaware Tobacco Prevention Coalition, said, â€œSmoke-free environments will protect the health of all Delawareans by helping youth never to start smoking, encouraging adults to quit smoking, and reducing the exposure for all of us to the harmful effects of secondhand smoke. The long term health benefits of this law will be substantial.â€
Bill Bowser, chair of the Delaware Advisory Council on Cancer Incidence and Mortality, said, â€œTobacco-related cancer rate in Delaware is 26 percent above the national average. Clearly, this is unacceptable. This bill is an important and historic step in addressing our very serious cancer situation.â€
The preamble of Senate Bill 99 notes that secondhand smoke includes 43 chemicals that are known human carcinogens; that secondhand smoke increases the risk for low weight babies in pregnant women; that it leads to decreased lung function, asthma, pneumonia, ear infections, bronchitis and even sudden infant death syndrome in children; that it can nearly double the risk of heart attack; and that Delaware has the second highest lung cancer mortality rate in the country.