Letters to the editor for December 13, 2006

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Dear editor,

Secondhand smoke exposure is quickly being recognized as a major health hazard in our state, nation and even worldwide.

Community leaders in many municipalities surrounding Shelby County have already voted to pass comprehensive no-smoking laws to protect innocent lives from the very real dangers of secondhand smoke exposure.

Birmingham, Montgomery, Homewood, Vestavia, Prattville and several others, including Auburn, a major SEC university town, have passed ordinances that prohibit smoking in public places such as restaurants, bars, and other workplaces.

My question is &8220;When will cities in Shelby County follow suit?&8221;

Secondhand smoke exposure is the third leading cause of preventable death in our nation, taking more than 50,000 lives each year from lung cancer, heart disease, stroke, and other conditions.

Young people are a population at increased risk because they develop values according to community norms, mirroring the actions of adults.

If they observe adults smoking in public, statistics prove that they are more likely to pick up the habit.

Ninety percent of smokers begin before age 18. This means that if we can change community norms by enforcing smoking restrictions, we may be able to prevent young people from starting to smoke, which will, in turn, save the lives of millions.

If you would like to join in our efforts to make Shelby County smoke-free, please join the Shelby County Coalition for Safe and Drug-Free Communities by contacting me at 663-6301 ext. 230.

Karamie Barksdale, Pelha