Letters to the editor: Saturday, June 13, 2009
Secondhand smoke can cause harm in many ways. Exposure to secondhand smoke can double the risk of heart disease for nonsmokers and can cause lung cancer and other breathing problems. Each year, more than 440,000 Americans die from smoking-related illnesses. The U.S. surgeon general confirmed in 2006 that no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke exists. Cities, states and countries are going smoke-free with increasing frequency.
It’s time for Oklahoma to clear the air and provide every citizen the opportunity to breathe smoke-free air. The majority of Oklahoma legislators support smoke-free workplaces, but a few key lawmakers blocked opportunities to pass a bill in both houses of the Legislature. It’s time for all lawmakers to join this important effort. After all, 68 percent of Oklahomans polled said they want a smoke-free state — and thousands of Oklahomans may die or become ill from secondhand smoke exposure before this legislation is passed.
Twenty-seven states have passed smoke-free laws; about 10 others are considering it. It’s becoming more evident that it’s not a matter of if Oklahoma will become a 100 percent smoke-free state but when it will happen.
During this interim legislative cycle, ask your representatives in the Legislature to support smoke-free legislation. All Oklahomans deserve the right to breathe smoke-free air.
Mary Ann Bauman, M.D.,
Bauman is medical director for women’s health and community relations for INTEGRIS Health.