Sitnews - Stories In The News - Ketchikan, Alaska - Opinions


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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