Pa. mayor nixes smoking ban, citing own ‘research’

PUNXSUTAWNEY, Pa. (AP) — A western Pennsylvania mayor has vetoed a measure to ban outdoor smoking in public places because he believes outdoor smoking is a civil liberty, and that his own “research” suggests the cancer risk from exposure to secondhand smoke outdoors is exaggerated.

“I think it’s a red herring to say it causes cancer,” Punxsutawney Mayor James Wehrle told WJAC-TV. ( ) “But then when you talk to people, it’s always about the smell of their clothes. I think it may bother kids if they’re next to it for a period of time, but I think in open air, people can get out of the way.”

The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention contends secondhand smoke can cause or contribute to a variety of health issues, including cancer, ear and respiratory infections and increases the risk of sudden infant death syndrome.

The CDC contends there’s no risk-free level of exposure to secondhand smoke, and the agency doesn’t differentiate in its statistics between outdoor and indoor exposure.

Borough Council President Larry Chenoga said the mayor vetoed the bill because he doesn’t believe smoking seriously bothers nonsmokers outdoors.

The measure passed with a simple majority on the seven-member council. Council plans to revisit the issue next month in hopes of overriding the veto with a 5-2 majority.


Information from: WJAC-TV,

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