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Delaware County physicians’ support for smoking ban nets a win
e-Reports, June 27, 2011
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Muncie-area physicians learned their united voices have power and influence, and they’re eager to share their experience with you - their colleagues around the state.

In recent weeks, physicians, nurses, patients, business and hospital leaders in Delaware County joined ranks to persuade their county commissioners to pass a comprehensive smoking ban - with no exceptions or exemptions. Since 2006, the county has had a ban in restaurants; however, bars and some public places were smoking zones, endangering the lives of workers from secondhand smoke.

But in 2006, the health care community was not organized. “This time, the Medical Executive Committee at IU Health Ball Memorial Hospital and the Delaware County Medical Society got behind the effort,” said Luke Philippsen, M.D., chair of the hospital committee and ISMA member. “We sent emails, set up a phone tree and posted notices on bulletin boards.”

The Muncie Action Plan was created, with backing from businesses and doctors who want to promote a more healthy, vibrant community to improve overall health. A “synergy” was formed from all these groups, and this time bar owners were less organized.

Dr. Philipsen
"What inspired me is: 
We can make a difference."

- Luke Philipsen, M.D.

“One commissioner was instrumental in drafting this ordinance and was a big proponent,” said Jeffrey Bird, M.D., VP and chief medical officer for IU Health Ball Memorial Hospital. And about the other commissioners, Dr. Bird said, ”We wore them down – the doctors wore them down.”

At a June 6 meeting, all knew the ban would come up for a vote. Doctors were paged to remind them of the meeting and urge them to attend. “This is where a county medical society can make a difference,” said Dr. Philippsen. Wearing white lab coats, about 30 to 40 doctors were present and several provided testimony.

But the first speaker, one of Dr. Philippsen’s patients, related to the commissioners in dramatic fashion how his terminal cancer resulted from breathing secondhand smoke. When a few citizens questioned the threat from others’ tobacco products, Dr. Bird stepped to the microphone and simply stated, “Secondhand smoke kills.”

The ban passed and Delaware County became one of few in the state to take such action. Dr. Bird called it “a monumental day for the health of the people of Delaware County.”

“The experience was uplifting,” said Dr. Philippsen. “Doctors sometimes think they are powerless or they can’t change things. What inspired me is: We can make a difference.”

Next the doctors plan to impact childhood obesity.

Drs. Bird and Philippsen would welcome a conversation with you about their “blueprint” for success. Reach Dr. Philippsen at (765) 730-3137 or via email. Contact Dr. Bird at (765) 751-6325 or by email.

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