Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Fight for Clean Air Continues

Today I'm blogging from Columbus, where advocates for public health are gathering to plot a statewide strategy on clean indoor air.

I joined City Council members from Lakewood, near Cleveland, and Centerville, near Dayton to address a couple of the sessions.

First, some bad news. Toledo's clean air defeat this past November has set back clean air efforts in Cleveland and Dayton, among other cities. In fact, I am sorry to report that Arnie Elzey and friends are popping up at City Councils around the state and misrepresent what's been happening in Toledo. There must be a counter attack.

The good news is that clean air advocates in Ohio have been working hard and smart and are poised for a big fight. And some striking stats...according to RTI's Survey of Adult Smokers, only the NW Ohio region saw a drop in smoking..going from 32.4 percent in 2003 down to 20.2 percent in 2004. Other regions in OH went up or stayed flat. Moral: smoking bans and even the debate resylt in lower smoking rates, less death and disease and suffering.

The battle for clean air in Ohio is about to be joined.


Blogger Peahippo said...

Sorry, Frank, but you're not fighting for "clean indoor air" or "clean air". You're fighting AGAINST the rights of individual smokers and the choices of establishment owners.

I didn't realize that the travesty of anti-public-smoking had reached the level of using misleading terminology to attain its ends. It took until the 4th paragraph of your posting to actually mention "smoker". Way to demonstrate your integrity, Frank.

If Toledoan politicians like yourself wanted to be HONEST about "clean air", you'd be rushing to set tough emissions standards for automobiles in Ohio, as well as factories and plants. After all, there's no establishment owner involved, and no way to avoid, when you are standing on the streetcorner getting hit with all those tailpipe fumes.

I happen to know someone who works in the local environmental office, and the permit for that new coke plant was specifically rushed through the process in 2 weeks, not the 6+ months it normally takes. In those 2 weeks, my contact said that essentially no public safety process was followed ... hence, that permit was simply being pushed through for economic reasons.

If you want to impress me, Frank, with your concern for "clean air", go back and get that coke plant permit re-evaluated like it should be, and then we'll believe you actually care about the lungs of Toledoans.

10:00 PM  
Blogger ToledoJoe said...


Thanks for putting up this blog. We need a place to have good discussions on the policy.

Generally, I support the ban. But Frank, don't you have more important things to worry about. Toledo's economy is going down the dumper. Focus on that and stop making trips to other cities and wasting time. If we lose some of the companies that it sounds like we are, every office holder will lose my vote.

12:12 AM  
Blogger Frank said...

I'm glad this post has struck a nerve, debate is a good thing.

Toledo should be proud that it led the way taking on big tobacco (who continue to kill and maim millions more people than a state-of-the-art coke plant might)

The Center for Disease Control in Atlanta has consistently ranked Toledo as one of the highest metro areas for smoking and death and diseases related to second hand smoke. As a concerned citizen, an elected leader, and someone who is trying to attract families and companies to locate here - I have a responsibility to act.

Agents for big tobacco like Bill Delany and Arnie Elzey had temporary success muddling the issue on the Toledo ballot last year, and I'm proud to be part of the campaign for a statewide smoking ban.

Where in our legal tradition springs "the rights of individual smokers?" --- Our cherished documents tend to promote life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, not exactly an endorsement of subjecting employees to an 8 hour shift in toxic second hand smoke.

I'm glad the soon to be built coke plant in Toledo's industrial area has been brought up. It in fact has been held up by bureaucrats and enviros insisting that emissions levels be as restrictive as possible, and I agree with them. Once the plant operators have agreed to install the technology to comply with the aggressively restrictive emissions permit, I will support legislation authorizing its construction and operation.

Jobs are important, as Toledo Joe pointed out.

9:04 AM  
Blogger Frank said...

Tom Henry, the environmental reporter at The Blade, reports on the Bush Administration's assault on clean air. Bush seeks to rollback the Clean Air Act of 1970 and weaken permitting for plants like the coke plant we've been discussing.

Such a plant needs to have the strictest possible environmental safeguards, not only for the safety of the folks on the East Side and Oregon, but also for aquatic life and the water quality itself in Lake Erie.

7:56 AM  
Blogger Peahippo said...

Frank, your approach on this topic is as disingenuous as any I've seen lately.

It sure is funny that we restrict smoking in bars -- ostensibly to protect the lungs of employees -- when said patrons wander out of those bars, get into their cars, and help rack up those ~25K deaths each year from alcohol-related accidents on the road. Alcohol is legal. Cigarettes are legal. But we've gotta stop those cigarettes, right?

Instead of a smoking ban, ventilation standards should have been set for semi-public areas like bars. This would have allowed the real tradition of personal liberty to be expressed. Yes, our legal system is based on the idea that you CAN kill yourself however fast or slow you please, be it alcohol or cigarettes.

But you're not after that, Frank. You're after the unfortunately usual tack of ban, ban, ban. Ban cigarettes, ban guns, and then wonder why people are leaving your so-called "elegant city". Bans are not regulation. Bans are instead authoritarian measures. That makes you an authoritarian.

You have no authority or responsibility to act to ban the population from indulging in sins. You can REGULATE -- as the real authority or responsibility of government -- but that means that the indulged behavior can continue under certain conditions. I find it shameful that I have to actually explain the difference to a city councilman.

Quote all the health statistics you want. If you really want to invoke that goblin, then what's the MPG rating of your car, Frank? We should ban all cars within Toledo with less than 20MPG, rising by .5MPG per year. All those tailpipe emissions ... heck, we've got everyone's lungs to think about!

It is the travesty of our times that personal liberties are being heavily compromised by politicians dressing their agendas as "public health" issues. (Yes, I'm talking about you, Frank.)

1:43 PM  

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