Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Secondhand Smoke Kills

(recent letter to the editor)

Recently, the Pittsfield Board of Health banned the sale of cigarettes in the city’s pharmacies, joining Lee, Lenox and Stockbridge. A good start and a positive move in the direction of public health, but don’t stop there. Government, at every level, needs to ban all smoking in all public places.

The dangers of smoking have been known since the 1920’s, enough to influence even Adolf Hitler to ban smoking in public places and for women of reproductive age! 

In 1972 tobacco industry researchers found that “sidestream (second-hand) smoke contained more toxic chemicals than mainstream smoke—in part because smoldering cigarettes burn at a lower temperature at which more toxic compounds are released.” 

In 1986 the Surgeon General issued a report saying that second-hand smoke can cause cancer, even in otherwise healthy non-smokers. The US Department of Health and Human Services tells us: “there is no risk-free level of exposure to second-hand smoke: even small amounts can be harmful to people’s health. Involuntary smoking is a cause of disease, including lung cancer, in healthy non-smokers.”

In 1992 the EPA report, Respiratory Health Effects of Passive Smoking, attributed “3,000 lung cancer deaths per year, 150,000-300,000 cases of bronchitis and pneumonia in infants and young children, and 200,000-1,000,000 cases of childhood asthma, and a statistically significant increased incidence of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome” to second-hand smoking.

While current statistics from the Centers for Disease Controls (CDC) state:

“In the United States, tobacco use is responsible for about one in five deaths annually (i.e., about 443,000 deaths per year, and an estimated 49,000 of these smoking-related deaths are the result of second-hand smoke exposure).”

(Note: 49,000/year = more people than die of breast cancer (41,000) and in car accidents (45,000)

Review the dates above (1920, 1972, 1986, and 1992). There is NO debate that cigarette smoking and second-hand smoke kill. While it is one thing for some adults to assume the risks of smoking, it is another thing to impose those risks on non-smoking adults and children.

In the same way we have adopted laws relative to speed limits, seat-belts, car seats, and having children sit in the back seat, we need safety laws to protect our children from the known dangers of second-hand smoke.

There is no excuse to delay, even one more day, from instituting a total ban on all smoking in all public places. It is past time to place the protection of public health over the interests of the tobacco industry.

Just do it, for the health of it!
Great Anti-smoking campaign video from Thailand


No comments: