Secondhand smoke kills 53,000 people a year

January 26, 2004

Dear Editor:

I must reply to Mr. Kidd's letter, "Drinking more dangerous than smoking." Mr. Kidd, you state, "But if we smoke, we're endangering people's lives," discussing smoking in restaurants, and you say, "personally, I don't believe smoking hurts everybody, and I don't care what anybody says, it hasn't been proven that it hurts everybody."

Dr. James Bean, past president of the Lexington Medical Society, stated in his remarks to the Urban County Council and published in the Lexington Herald-Leader in December 2002, "We know that 53,000 people a year die in the United States from diseases caused by secondhand smoke."

This is a proven fact. What about people driving in cars with babies and young children who are smoking with the windows rolled up? The kids are inhaling massive amounts of smoke. Look at the side of the road next time you are at a stoplight. Count the amount of cigarette butts you see, as compared to, say, beer cans, or anything for that matter. You'll be shocked. Whatever happened to the car ashtray? Do smokers not want to dirty up their own cars so they trash our planet?


Proven fact: 75 percent of people in the U.S. do not smoke. But we must inhale dangerous secondhand smoke because you cannot seem to show the courtesy to walk outside to fill your lungs with smoke. You talk about a man having two or three beers "in the presence of a woman and a small child" and then driving. I personally have seen a bartender at a local, new, and very popular non-smoking restaurant tell a man that he could not have any more to drink - not because he was drunk, but because the restaurant has a policy on how many drinks a person can safely have within one hour. They are looking out for that person, you, me, and the kids.

Proven fact: 17,000 people died from drunk driving accidents last year, 32 percent of the amount of people that died from secondhand smoke. I'm not praising drinking or drunk driving. The penalty for driving drunk is harsh. Yet, the penalty for smoking next to a table of children in a restaurant is: Let's see, oh, there isn't one!

Bless your heart if you want to smoke, sir. Or if you don't want to vote because you may not be able to smoke. By the way, you do still have the right to vote. This is the United States of America. But please realize that I, my family, and millions of others want to grow up without smoke in our lungs. All you have to do is walk outside for a few minutes. It's that simple.

Kirk Schlea

Gravel Switch

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