Dear Editor,

Breathe Easy Vincennes thanks the Knox County Commissioners for recognizing that secondhand smoke is dangerous and for prioritizing the health of Knox County employees. Changing policies to protect Knox County employees is an important first step to making our community healthier for all.

On the other hand, the Commissioners missed a huge opportunity to protect ALL employees by passing a strong smoke-free air policy. What about the employees in other establishments that still must work in a smoke-filled environment every day? Don’t they deserve to be protected? Why isn’t their health being made a priority?

We should not have winners and losers when it comes to smoke-free air policies. Everyone should be a winner and protected from the harm of secondhand smoke at work. We shouldn’t assume that because a person works at an establishment that allows smoking that they don’t mind being exposed to secondhand smoke, or that they could just find another job. They deserve the same protection as county employees. They deserve to work in an environment that is safe from a cloud of carcinogenic smoke.

Promoting good health is so important, particularly as we have battled a pandemic that is costing the lives of those in our community. While there is only so much we can do to battle against the pandemic, the Commissioners could protect all employees in Knox County from the harm of secondhand smoke. They could have shown that the health of all employees in our county is important, and that workplaces must be safe. It’s time for Knox County and Vincennes to step up for all employees in our community by passing a strong smoke-free air ordinance that protects everyone at their workplace.

It’s time for all employees to be protected from the harms of secondhand smoke. Protecting county employees is a first step—but it’s only a first step.

Duane Chattin

Breathe Easy Vincennes Coalition

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