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KC Doctors Warn of Second-Hand Smoke

Photo by Elana Gordon
Dr. Jay Portnoy [L] and Dr. Willie Lawrence [R] discuss harms of secondhand smoke at \"Breathe Easy KC\" campaign event

By Elana Gordon

KANSAS CITY, MO – Medical doctors and supporters of a proposed smoking ban called attention to the harms of second-hand smoke at a news conference today. Question Number 3 is a citizen's petition proposal to ban smoking in all enclosed public places and workspaces, including restaurants and bars. The city's current laws allow smoking in bars and restaurants with liquor licenses after 9 p.m.

Dr. Jay Portnoy is chief of allergy at Children's Mercy Hospital and says even if places have special ventilation systems, harmful toxins can still linger in the air hours after someone smokes.

"If we go there at lunch before the smokers go in there, we still find significantly high particle counts. And so it makes no sense to say that restaurants can be smoke free until 9:00 and then afterwards allow smoking. That just scientifically makes no sense," Portnoy says.

Dr. Portnoy also says second-hand smoke is linked to an increased risk for asthma as well as for lung cancer and heart disease. Opponents of the ban say smoking should be legal in adult venues, and small businesses say the measure would unfairly discriminate against them because the ban would still allow smoking on casino gaming floors. Kansas Citians will vote on whether or not to approve the measure this Tuesday.

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