Secondhand smoke costs lives, money

Published 12:00 am Friday, April 11, 2008

The issue: American Cancer Society pushes smoke-free bill in Legislature.

Our position: Cigarettes are killers.

Eight thousand people have signed a petition asking the Alabama Legislature to consider a bill that would ban smoking in workplaces and many public places statewide.

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Members of the American Cancer Society handed out the petitions Thursday to Alabama senators.

Sen. Vivian Davis Figures, D-Mobile, has introduced a bill that would prohibit smoking in any place of employment, an outdoor arena, stadium or amphitheater, bleachers or grandstands or 10 feet or more from an entrance, operable window or ventilation system of an enclosed area where smoking is banned.

The law would not apply to private residences, except when they are used for child care, adult care or health care; or hotel or motel rooms designated as smoking rooms, private clubs, a private or semi-private room in a nursing home or long-term care facility, tobacco retail stores, stand alone bars, cigar bars or tobacco manufacturers, importers or retailer.

This is a good bill for a beginning.

Cigarettes kill. Enough scientific studies have been conducted for a number of years to prove the fact that tobacco is deadly.

Figures&8217; bill has been through the required readings, but is stuck in a Senate that cannot seem to budget because of political infighting.

But we do not have to wait on the state to make a move against smoking in public places.

Closer to home, the Selma City Council could consider a similar measure in our city. Other cities have banned smoking in public places with great success.

Here&8217;s why:

Still not convinced?

Consider the profit, or loss of. The Society of Actuaries has determined that secondhand smoke costs the U.S. economy roughly $10 billion a year: $5 billion in estimated medical costs associated with secondhand smoke exposure and another $4.6 billion in lost wages. This does not take into account when children and teenagers are exposed to secondhand smoke.

Now, according to the Americans for Nonsmokers&8217; Rights, if all workplaces were to implement 100 percent smokefree policies, the reduction in heart attack rates because of secondhand smoke would save the nation $49 million in direct medical savings in the first year.

We hope the Senate will move on this issue positively.

Meanwhile, perhaps the city council here could agree on this measure and adopt a nonsmoking policy.