EDITORIAL: Unhealthy choice

We wish our initial mistakenly reported adoption of a public no-smoking ordinance in Booneville had been correct.
The 3-2 vote by which a smoking ban was defeated Tuesday night means smoking continues in many Booneville restaurants, stores, shops and other public places.
People who don’t want to inhale second-hand smoke – a proven carcinogen just like smoking cigarettes, cigars and pipes – continue having little or no choice in Booneville if they go beyond their own property.
The claim that a smoking ban infringes on the “rights” of individuals is legally uninformed. Smoking is not a right, as court rulings have confirmed.
It is a bad choice that’s doubly unhealthy – for smokers and for those who must inhale second-hand smoke if they want to be in public places where smoking is allowed.
The American Cancer Society, the leading public voice and scientific authority on the harmful effects of secondhand smoke (also called passive smoke) does not mince words:
Non-smokers who breathe in secondhand smoke take in nicotine and other toxic chemicals just like smokers do. The more secondhand smoke you are exposed to, the higher the level of these harmful chemicals in your body. Why is secondhand smoke a dangerous, life-threatening problem? Secondhand smoke causes cancer.
Secondhand smoke is a “known human carcinogen” (cancer-causing agent), cited by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. National Toxicology Program, and the International Agency for Research on Cancer, a branch of the World Health Organization.
Tobacco smoke contains over 4,000 chemical compounds, and more than 60 are known or suspected to cause cancer.
Secondhand smoke also causes other diseases and deaths:
• In our nation every year, 46,000 deaths happen from heart disease in non-smokers who live with smokers.
• About 3,400 lung cancer deaths in non-smoking adults occur every year.
Other breathing diseases, strokes, sicker children and low-birth-weight babies are linked to second-hand smoke.
Secondhand smoke may be linked to breast cancer, a troubling cause of cancer deaths among women, and some men.
Secondhand smoke causes premature death and disease in children and in adults who do not smoke.
Passive smoking, the ACS reports, isn’t safe at any level.
The cancer society also says separating smokers from non-smokers, cleaning the air, and ventilating buildings cannot keep non-smokers from being exposed to secondhand smoke.
Booneville’s board made an unhealthy choice, one that can become healthy with the switch of one vote.

NEMS Daily Journal

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