OUR OPINION: New Albany mulls improving its health

By NEMS Daily Journal

New Albany residents have an opportunity to improve their community’s health for smokers and non-smokers with the consideration of a smoking ban ordinance Tuesday at a 5:30 p.m. public hearing at City Hall.
New Albany does not have a ban on smoking in public places, but Ward 2 Alderman Johnny Anderson supports a ban. Oxford, Starkville, Tupelo, Pontotoc and Mantachie have bans in place. The prohibition has had little apparent impact except to irritate some smokers who no longer can impose their smoke from cigarettes, pipes and cigars on non-smokers in public places like restaurants, bars and retail stores.
The Mississippi Department of Health is among the advocates for smoke-free public places in our state. It and the associations seeking cures for and prevention of various cancers, strokes and chronic pulmonary disease have volumes of scientific data supporting a ban and its benefits, starting immediately on cessation.
The American Cancer Society is one of the logical places to seek facts about second-hand smoke (the kind people in public places breathe if they’re smokers).
This is what the website http://www. cancer.org/Cancer/CancerCauses/TobaccoCancer/secondhand-smoke reports:
* Secondhand smoke is also known as environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) or passive smoke. It is a mixture of 2 forms of smoke that come from burning tobacco: sidestream smoke (smoke that comes from the end of a lighted cigarette, pipe, or cigar) and mainstream smoke (smoke that is exhaled by a smoker). The sidestream smoke has higher concentrations of cancer-causing agents (carcinogens) than the mainstream smoke. And, it contains smaller particles which make their way into the body’s cells more easily.
* When non-smokers are exposed to secondhand smoke it is called involuntary smoking. Secondhand smoke causes cancer.
The ACS says tobacco smoke contains more than 4,000 chemical compounds. More than 60 of are known or suspected to cause cancer.
Secondhand smoke also causes other kinds of diseases and deaths: heart disease, infections like pneumonia and bronchitis in children younger than 18 months of age, and pregnant women exposed to secondhand smoke are also at increased risk of having low birth- weight babies.
The American Lung Association is equally ardent in its effort to eliminate secondhand smoke: “Tragically, each day thousands of kids still pick up a cigarette for the first time. The cycle of addiction, illness and death continues.”
Everything about smoking should be examined in the larger context of healthy living. Smoking in public is not a right, it is an unhealthy invasion of someone else’s air.