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Letter to the Editor: Smoking ban a health issue

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Dear editor:The Dec. 12 article "Opposition to proposed smoking ban in Cape Girardeau heats up" focused more on the controversy of smoke-free policies than the reason for them -- the health of employees and patrons.

Despite overwhelming evidence of the negative effects of secondhand smoke on public health, the primary concern among some is the impact a smoke-free ordinance may have on business. Yet the consensus of credible, peer-reviewed studies is that smoke-free policies are not known to negatively affect business. Nonetheless, when considering smoke-free policies, some allow unproven concerns of economic losses to overshadow the proven health benefits to employees and patrons.

Health risks associated with secondhand smoke are well documented. Even Philip Morris acknowledges on their website, "the conclusions of public health officials concerning environmental tobacco smoke are sufficient to warrant measures that regulate cigarette smoking in public places." Stepping outside to smoke is not asking too much, especially when it protects the health rights of others.

Everyone should have a right to breathe safe air, including bar and restaurant employees who deserve the same health protections that other workers in our city have. They should not have to be exposed to secondhand smoke and harm their health in order to make a living. Smoke-free policies are clearly a public health issue.

Shelly Wood, Cape Girardeau