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Arkansas Health Care Providers Endorse Smoke Free Little Rock

Presidents and CEOs from Central Arkansas's most respected hospitals and clinics; including Arkansas Children's Hospital, Arkansas Heart Hospital, Baptist Health, CARTI, CHI St. Vincent, and UAMS; have all signed on to a letter of support for the Smoke Free Little Rock campaign addressed to the Mayor and Little Rock City Board of Directors.

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Dear Mayor Stodola and City Directors,

As leaders in the Little Rock healthcare and business community, we are respectfully writing to express our support for a much-needed revision of the city’s outdated smoking ordinance, and to seek your support for this critical public health issue.

Comprehensive smoke-free laws are on the rise across the country.  To date, there are over 900 cities with comprehensive smoke free policies.  These cities include major metro areas like Dallas, Fort Worth, St. Louis, and New Orleans.  Here in Arkansas, cities like Helena-West Helena, and even the tiny town of Wooster have surpassed Little Rock in accomplishing this public health goal.1 Indoor smoking is still permitted at many Little Rock establishments, most prominently bars.  Bar and hospitality workers are forced to breathe dangerous air for hours at a time during their shift thus putting their health at risk in the pursuit of a paycheck.

The negative health impact that smoking has on our state is shocking.  Nearly 25% of all adult Arkansans smoke.  Roughly 16% of all Arkansas high school students smoke (almost double the national average), and 1700 young people under the age of 18 become new smokers every year.  69,000 of those teenagers will die prematurely from smoking.2 

Smoking also takes a terrible financial toll on our state.  It costs the state over $1 billion in direct healthcare costs; costs that we as healthcare providers are all too familiar with.  Smoking costs Arkansas taxpayers over $200 million in Medicaid spending, and our businesses lose almost $2 billion in productivity every year.  If you combined our residents’ total tax burden from smoking caused government expenditures; it would cost every household in Arkansas over $1,000.2

By making Little Rock a comprehensive smoke-free city; you’ll ensure that every establishment in our city is free from deadly secondhand smoke.  This policy will help decrease healthcare costs, aid people in smoking cessation, and discourage youth from taking up smoking.3   

We respectfully ask that you put the health of our city first, and make Little Rock a comprehensive smoke-free city.

Sincerely,

Marcy L. Doderer        Dr. Bruce Murphy
President and CEO      President and CEO
Arkansas Children’s    Arkansas Heart Hospital

Troy Wells                  Adam Head
President and CEO     President and CEO
Baptist Health            CARTI

Chad Aduddell          Dr. Stephanie Gardner
CEO                          Interim Chancellor
CHI St. Vincent          UAMS

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