Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Letter to The Gazette on Smoking Ban

Check out my letter in today’s Gazette in response to their November 20 editorial about my proposed smoking ban. For your convenience, I have reprinted the letter here:

Secondhand smoke is classified as a “known human carcinogen,” and it is responsible for about 3,400 lung cancer deaths in non-smoking adults in the U.S. each year. So when The Gazette asks, “How far are Montgomery County’s overprotective overseers willing to go?” [Nov. 20, “Kicking Montgomery’s smokers to the curb”] I say, as far as the county’s property line. As elected officials, we at the County Council are stewards for public health, and it is our responsibility to make sure our public facilities are healthy and safe.

The Gazette correctly states that smoking is banned in most public spaces already, and my bill would extend the ban to property owned or leased by Montgomery County, not including public rights of way. The ban also would not include parks.

Some may say that’s going too far, but according to the Surgeon General, secondhand smoke contains more than 7,000 chemicals. Hundreds of them are toxic and about 70 are known to cause cancer. Secondhand smoke especially affects children and women who are pregnant. According to the American Cancer Society, there is no risk-free level of exposure to secondhand smoke.

I want parents to be able to take children to the library; county employees to be able to go to work; and people who are sick to be able to enter our health clinics without passing through a hazardous cloud of smoke. My proposal is not about taking away the rights of smokers. It is about providing safe and healthy access to public facilities for everyone.

Nancy Floreen, Garrett Park

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