Thursday April 18, 2013
On Monday night, the people of the small town of Ketchum, Idaho (population 2,694), celebrated a very big public health victory.
Thanks to the hard work of the Smokefree Idaho coalition, of which ACS CAN is a key member, the city council voted unanimously to pass the most comprehensive local smoke-free ordinance in the state. Beginning April 24, the people of Ketchum will be able to breathe smoke-free air in all bars, small businesses, hotels and motels, hookah bars, tobacco shops, bus stops, special event venues and various outdoor areas.
Our staff in Idaho told me that some of the city council members and the mayor shared inspiring stories before the vote. One council member said his fight against tobacco began when he was seven and he made a deal with his mom that he would stop tearing his coat sleeves if she would stop smoking. Ketchum Mayor Randy Hall shared that he was raised by a single mother who smoked a pack a day. When he was about 10 years old, he urged his mom to stop smoking, citing how expensive cigarettes were. Unfortunately she wasn’t able to quit, and she passed away from lung cancer at the age of 40. It’s those types of stories that inspired the town of Ketchum to take action to combat tobacco use.
Another inspiring story is that of Pete Prekeges, an owner of Grumpy’s Restaurant in Ketchum and the Silver Dollar Saloon in nearby Bellevue, who became one of the biggest proponents of Smokefree Idaho. Until a couple weeks ago, Pete was an outspoken opponent of smoke-free policies. But once he saw the impact a comprehensive smoke-free law could have on his business, as well as on the health of his employees and patrons, he became a champion for the cause. His bar in Bellevue had been the last smoking bar in the Wood River Valley area, but after seeing the activity in Ketchum and working in his smoky bar, he decided this week to make the Silver Dollar Saloon smoke-free. Pete has also pledged to work with the Smokefree Idaho coalition partners on getting a comprehensive smoke-free ordinance passed in Bellevue.
ACS CAN is working in communities like Ketchum all across the country to pass lifesaving smoke-free laws. In fact, 588 communities have comprehensive smoke-free laws today. Thanks to incredible ACS CAN volunteers, powerful coalitions like Smokefree Idaho and inspiring stories like those of Mayor Hall and Pete Prekeges we have enormous power to make a difference in the health of Americans everywhere.
No one should have to choose between his or her job and his or her life, and we’re dedicated to seeing that all Americans maintain the right to breathe smoke-free air.