CLEARING THE AIR
by Marya Tyler,
Ketchikan General Hospital Prevention Services
October 07, 2003
Tuesday - 1:20 am
On September 22nd, four members of the Borough Assembly -- George
Tipton, Richard Coose, Dick Burton, and Maggie Sarber -- voted
to allow secondhand smoke in Borough facilities, including the
Ketchikan International Airport lounge. Why is this a bad idea?
- Secondhand smoke is known
to kill 53,000 non-smoking Americans every year. There is no
disagreement among health professionals that secondhand smoke
is lethal and deadly.
- Even brief exposure can trigger
asthma and heart attacks. Does the Ketchikan Gateway Borough
really want to pay the price for lawsuits related to secondhand
smoke and heart attacks?
- It is not the smell of smoke
that is the problem. The carcinogens are present when the smell
is not. Cigarette smoke contains 4,000 toxic chemicals, many
times more lethal than car exhaust or wood-stove smoke.
- Smoke does not know where
it is supposed to stay. Sitting in a different section of the
airport does not protect you from secondhand smoke. There are
no peeing sections in swimming pools for the same reason.
- Separate ventilation systems
are costly, ineffective, and don't protect workers. Bar and
restaurant workers inhale the equivalent of a pack of cigarettes
in each 8-hour shift.
- The purpose of government,
according to the Constitution, is to "promote the general
welfare." For that reason, drinking water is tested, your
hamburger is inspected, and health codes dictate there shouldn't
be rat droppings in your food. Rat droppings don't kill even
close to 50,000 people every year.
- Airport Lounge owner Ann Simmons,
daughter of Mayor Salazar, fears that banning smoking would have
a devastating effect on her business. In fact, all reputable
(non-tobacco funded) economic studies show that going smokefree
does not reduce, and may increase restaurant sales.
- Virtually every airport in
the United States is smokefree. They save substantially on
cleaning, painting, maintenance, upkeep and insurance. They have
more productive, healthier employees. Alaska Airlines does
not hire smokers.
- Most Alaskans (72%) don't
smoke. Even fewer tourists smoke. Should one business owner
and a few smokers be allowed to compromise the health of all?
In Alaska, we value our rights
and don't like to impinge on people's freedoms. Clean air is
a freedom we enjoy, and it's a right we need to defend.
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