Tobacco is a killer

Posted: Tuesday, February 24, 2004

I've read much discussion of secondhand smoke on these pages over the last few weeks, and one fact needs to be emphasized: breathing secondhand smoke is dangerous to your health. Secondhand smoke is a carcinogen. I lost my father to emphysema, and my husband to cancer of the mouth - each was a casualty of the chemicals in tobacco, such as arsenic, carbon-monoxide, DDT, and even acetone (also used in nail polish remover).

Besides emphysema, these toxins cause various cancers, not only lung cancer. In a short period of time, they can increase your risk of heart attack. Even 20 minutes' exposure to secondhand smoke causes a nonsmoker's blood platelets to get sticky and reduces the heart's ability to pump blood.

As a shop steward for more than 15 years, I applaud any measure to help safe working conditions, and I support a clean indoor policy for all public places. I've seen reputable economic studies, and I know from my own experience with communities in my native Arizona which have gone smoke-free, the results are positive. Clean indoor air helps, both the health of the public and workers, and with the economy. Juneau business owners will be pleasantly surprised with the new business clean indoor air will bring. Not only do business owners owe it to their employees (many have no health insurance), but to the adults and children who patronize their business or work and shop in the vicinity.

Alma Seward


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