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Don't let our chance to ban the use of tobacco products in public places go up in smokePosted Saturday, October 23, 2010, at 7:35 AM
Greene County Smoking Cessation and Prevention Coordinator Nancy Cummings has been campaigning for passage of an ordinance that creates a smoke-free zone in all public places in the county for a long time now.
So far, her efforts have not been met with any action.
The recent enactment by the Greene County Commissioners of an ordinance that bans the sale and use in public places of a popular synthetic-type marijuana known as 'Spice or K2" met with Cummings' approval.
However, a closer look at language of the new regulation was enough to spur her into some vocal action earlier this week lobbying for passage of a no smoking ordinance sometime in the near future.
Cummings addressed the commissioners with a handout that compared what she called "Tobacco Facts" with K-2.
While Cummings did not minimize the dangers of K-2 or Spice, she did point out that products containing synthetic cannabinoids have not been tested by the FDA or other governmental agencies.
The products may contain chemicals that are detrimental to the health and welfare of those who ingest them and medical studies note 'deleterious health risks and adverse effects associated with synthetic cannabinoids.
According to Cummings, tobacco products have been tested by the Centers for Disease Control and the Federal Drug Administration and they do contain more than 50 cancer-causing carcinogens and more than 4,000 chemicals.
The list of chemicals are things you wouldn't normally put in your mouth like DDT, carbon monoxide, ammonia, hydrogen cyanide, formaldehyde, arsenic and the very addictive drug nicotine.
She pointed out that smoking kills more people than alcohol, AIDS, car crashes, illegal drugs, murders and suicides combined.
Cummings also told the commissioners that 9,800 adults die each year from their own smoking while between 1,240 and 1,740 non-smokers die annually from second-hand smoke.
Use of tobacco products and second-hand smoke are the first and third leading causes of preventable death in the United States.
She noted that a 2006 study by U.S. Surgeon General concluded there are 'no risk-free levels of exposure' to second-hand smoke.
Statistics from Greene County show that about 1 in 4 adults smoke and approximately 1 in 5 pregnant women smoke -- alarmingly putting their unborn children at serious risk for health complications.
Cummings also pointed out that across Indiana, 39 communities and counties have some sort of either workplace or public place restrictions on tobacco use.
Nation-wide, 27 states have some kind of smoking-free air ordinances.
In conclusion, she commended the commissioners for being pro-active with regard to K-2 or Spice, but challenged them to think seriously about joining other Hoosier communities and pass a common sense smoke-free air ordinance.
"The facts about tobacco have been in for 32 years. The facts about K-2 are still being determined, so hopefully we don't have to wait another 32 years to find out about these synthetic drugs. We do know that tobacco is detrimental to our health. I would just like to challenge you today. You have the authority in your hands to solve this problem of second-hand smoke here in Greene County. You can also ignore it, and I would like to challenge you to think about what you want to do. Do you want to provide a solution to the detrimental effect of second-hand smoke? Or, do you want to continue to ignore it?"
Well said Nancy.
The ball is in the commissioner's court on smoking.
Like she stressed, they (the commissioners) can ignore it.
Or, they can step up and pass an ordinance that addresses the health concerns associated with smoking and tobacco use.
Some would argue that passing such regulation infringes on their rights because the government shouldn't be telling us how to live their lives.
I agree with that to a point.
I don't really care if you smoke in the confines of your home. It's your life, your health, your lungs to contaminate.
But the trouble with smoking is, it does affect others.
I'm thrilled there are a growing number of Greene County eating establishments that have taken the lead given by the Greene County Tobacco Cessation and Prevention Coalition and declared themselves smoke-free.
We can only hope that more will make that decision.
We can also be hopeful that someday our local leaders will have the foresight and political fortitude to make the bold step and ban smoking in public places in our county.
It is the right thing to do.
Nick is assistant editor for the Greene County Daily World. He can be reached by telephone at 847-4487 or 1-800-947-4487; by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Nick-Sc....
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