August 24, 2001
ROCKFORD MAYOR PRAISES I DECIDE TEENS
Youth-led movement increases participation in smoke-free restaurant program
ROCKFORD Youth advocates involved in a Winnebago County public health anti-tobacco outreach program received a resounding endorsement today from Rockford Mayor Doug Scott.
Teens in the Illinois Department of Public Healths I Decide movement were recognized by Mayor Scott at his weekly news conference for their work with the Winnebago County Health Department to enlist area restaurants in the Illinois Smoke-Free Restaurant Recognition Program. Only a handful of restaurants had signed up for the program but, as a result of the teens efforts since March, more than 70 restaurants voluntarily decided to prohibit smoking.
I support the states program and the work being done by I Decide to encourage young people and the community to be smoke-free, Scott said. It is great to see how the restaurant owners have rallied behind this cause and helped improve the health of their employees and customers.
The smoke-free restaurant program recognizes those restaurants that have gone entirely smoke-free and raises awareness to the dangers of second-hand smoke. Once identified, the restaurants are inspected by the Winnebago County Health Department and receive a certificate of recognition signed by Gov. George H. Ryan and John R. Lumpkin, M.D., director of the Illinois Department of Public Health.
The restaurant outreach campaign by these teens has been outstanding, Dr. Lumpkin said. They have taken their message of better health to these restaurants and the owners and managers have responded. The result is that customers can now enjoy dining out without suffering from the adverse effects of second-hand smoke.
The I Decide teens met with owners/managers to discuss the restaurants smoking policies and to provide them with packets containing information on the dangers associated with second-hand smoke.
We explained the benefits of joining our program, said Jessica Pratt, a member of the I Decide teen advisory panel. We wanted them to understand that smoking is a big problem and that having separate smoking sections does not eliminate the problem second-hand smoke causes for non-smokers.
Also attending the news conference were representatives from Fazolis, the Stockholm Inn and Culvers restaurants. The restaurant owners/managers expressed hope that their decision to go smoke-free would encourage other restaurants to follow suit.
I think a lot of restaurants are afraid to take a chance and drop smoking from their menu, said Molly Basil, manager of Fazolis in Rockford. Restaurants are fed a lot of misinformation by the tobacco industry about smoking sections and how a decision to eliminate smoking will put them out of business. We hope our involvement, and the involvement of other restaurants in the area, will give restaurant managers the courage to make the change to smoke-free dining.
Devan Schmidt, another I Decide teen advisory panel member, said the teens changed many restaurant owner/manager views on smoking sections.
All agreed that smoking sections dont really separate the smoke in the air and that smoking in restaurants was bad, Schmidt said. Its good for us to show restaurant owners that the next generation of customers are against smoking in restaurants and, sooner or later, smoking in restaurants will be a thing of the past. I am hoping sooner.
The I Decide members are hoping to build on the programs momentum and encourage other restaurants to go smoke-free.
In Illinois, 2,650 nonsmokers died last year from disease caused by inhaling second-hand smoke, which contains almost 5,000 chemicals and 43 cancer-causing agents. A study in The Journal of American Medical Association showed that 30 minutes of exposure to second-hand smoke immediately compromises the cardiovascular system of healthy nonsmokers in ways that are indistinguishable from smokers.
I Decide is the teen anti-tobacco movement begun last year in Winnebago County by the Illinois Department of Public Health. Almost 3,000 restaurants, located in 81 of the states 102 counties, now participate in the Illinois Smoke-Free Restaurant Recognition Program which was launched in May 2000.
For more information about the program or for a listing of smoke-free eating establishments, visit <www.idph.state.il.us/tobacco/ilsmkfree.htm>. Winnebago County restaurants interested in the program should call the Winnebago County Health Department at 815-972-7264. To learn more about I Decide, visit <www.idecide4me.com> or call toll-free 866-WE-DECIDE.
of Public Health
535 West Jefferson Street
Springfield, Illinois 62761
Questions or Comments