Know the facts about smoking

I am writing about “Smoking Ban Complaints” published June 4. I am always dismayed when important information is excluded from articles. I often read about the economic effect of banning smoking from public places. The cost of cancer is rarely mentioned in these printed conversations.

I am not calling for a complete ban of cigarettes because I actually think that people have a right to kill themselves if they chose. I do not think being a smoker gives you the right to damage the health or possibly kill others. Smoking is optional. Breathing is not.

Secondhand smoke

Secondhand smoke

I want to point out some information that is easily accessible from the American Cancer Society website. According to the experts, “Secondhand smoke is classified as a “known human carcinogen” (cancer-causing agent) by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the US National Toxicology Program, and the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), a branch of the World Health Organization.

Tobacco smoke contains over 4,000 chemical compounds. More than 60 of these are known or suspected to cause cancer.”

The website lists some other statistics.

Toxic effects os secondhand smoking

Toxic effects os secondhand smoking

Secondhand smoke can cause harm in many ways. In the United States alone, each year it is responsible for:

1. An estimated 46,000 deaths from heart disease in non-smokers who live with smokers

2. About 3,400 lung cancer deaths in non-smoking adults

3. Other breathing problems in non-smokers, including coughing, mucus, chest discomfort, and reduced lung function

4. 50,000 to 300,000 lung infections (such as pneumonia and bronchitis) in children younger than 18 months of age, which result in 7,500 to 15,000 hospitalizations annually

Increases in the number and severity of asthma attacks in about 200,000 to 1 million children who have asthma

Secondhand smoking

Secondhand smoking

More than 750,000 middle ear infections in children

Pregnant women exposed to secondhand smoke are also at increased risk of having low birth- weight babies.”

Finally the surgeon general is included on this website. “The 2006 US Surgeon General’s report reached some important conclusions:

Secondhand smoke causes premature death and disease in children and in adults who do not smoke.

Children exposed to secondhand smoke are at an increased risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), acute respiratory infections, ear problems, and more severe asthma. Smoking by parents causes breathing (respiratory) symptoms and slows lung growth in their children.

Second hand smoke

Second hand smoke

The scientific evidence shows that there is no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke.

Many millions of Americans, both children and adults, are still exposed to secondhand smoke in their homes and workplaces despite a great deal of progress in tobacco control.

The only way to fully protect non-smokers from exposure to secondhand smoke indoors is to prevent all smoking in that indoor space or building. Separating smokers from non-smokers, cleaning the air, and ventilating buildings cannot keep non-smokers from being exposed to secondhand smoke.”

People should not complain about a small fine for breaking the ban on smoking. We are not reaching financial devastation because patrons must go outside to smoke. Clearly the cost of secondhand smoke is much higher.

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