Eleven Hamilton County Mayors joined together Monday, October 12, 2015, at
the Tennessee Riverpark to launch a major health initiative designed to benefit
every Hamilton County resident.
All ten Hamilton County’s Municipal Mayors joined Hamilton County Mayor
Jim Coppinger to launch a major “Smoke Free Community” initiative intended to
improve the health and economy of the entire county. The Mayors are asking
citizens and visitors to not smoke in parks and public spaces, especially around
children and those with health conditions that might be aggravated by tobacco
“Tobacco still remains the leading preventable cause of death in
Hamilton County,” says Hamilton County Mayor Jim Coppinger, the mayoral team
leader of this health initiative, “More than 10 times as many U.S. citizens have
died prematurely from cigarette smoking than have died in all the wars fought by
the United States during its history. In Tennessee, 32 people die each day due
The Mayors’ initiative primarily seeks to eliminate exposure to second-
and third-hand smoke. Second-hand smoke is from the smoldering end of a
cigarette, pipe, or cigar and the smoke exhaled from the lungs. Third-hand
smoke is the chemical and odor residue on a smoker’s hands, mouth, hair,
clothing, car upholstery, pets, and furniture that is known to be absorbed,
ingested, or inhaled by others. Third-hand smoke poses a health threat to
nursing infants and children who are exposed.
“Second-hand and third-hand smoke contains almost all the same toxic
compounds as first-hand cigarette smoke,” explains Becky Barnes, the
Chattanooga-Hamilton County Health Department Administrator, “There is no safe
level of exposure for anyone, even if you are outside.”
Besides the health consequences of smoking and smoke exposure,
tobacco-related medical expenses are an enormous financial drain on the area’s
economy. The tax burden on Hamilton County residents funneled into
governmental smoking-related expenditures is approximately $1,100 per household,
regardless of whether they smoke or not.
Tennessee is currently ranked 47th in adult smoking, ahead of only
Mississippi, Arkansas, and Kentucky. Annual health care costs in Tennessee
due to smoking are $2.67 billion, and lost productivity due to smoking in TN is
$3.59 billion. By encouraging and supporting tobacco-free lifestyles and
environments, the Mayors hope to improve the health of all our residents and
begin to regain the dollars needlessly lost to tobacco-related illnesses.
Smoke free policies in places frequented by our youth are endorsed by the
CDC as an effective means of youth tobacco prevention. Ninety percent of adult
smokers had their first cigarette before the age of 18. Child development
specialists stress the importance of modeling positive behaviors to youth as
their primary way of learning. The more adults they see having fun and
enjoying life without the use of tobacco or e-cigarettes, the more likely they
too will adopt smoke-free lifestyles. In 2014, e-cigarette use (vaping)
surpassed traditional cigarette usage among teens.
The initiative is financed by Tobacco Settlement funds and will not use
any additional tax dollars.
For more information about the Mayors’ Smoke Free Community initiative,
contact Tom Bodkin, Public Information Officer at 209-8238 or