Auburn Citizen: Secondhand smoke a danger to everyone

(August 6, 2010)

The American Lung Association in New York wholeheartedly agrees with The Citizen’s editorial “Keep Smoking Away from Kids in Cars” and has been advocating for this legislation’s passage in the New York State Senate. For the sake of our children, this bill should be sent to Governor Paterson so he can sign it into law.

As The Citizen points out, we know that exposure to secondhand smoke puts those who breathe it in at risk. In fact, in 2006 the U.S. surgeon general declared that there is no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke. What’s more, since children have smaller lungs, they breathe in 50 percent more air pollution than adults. Being in a car with cigarette smoke is more than a nuisance, it’s an absolute danger.

The New York State Health Department estimates that 2,500 New Yorkers die every year as a result of secondhand smoke. Nationwide, secondhand smoke is responsible for 54,000 deaths. Those exposed during everyday activities face a much higher lifetime risk of lung cancer.

When we consider that secondhand smoke worsens asthma conditions and has been linked to being a significant cause of early childhood asthma, it’s clear that exposure must be limited. That’s why the Lung Association advocates for passage of laws that limit the public’s exposure to secondhand smoke not only in cars, but in parks, at beaches and in entranceways. We need to protect our kids from this public health threat. We applaud The Citizen for helping to bring the merits of this common-sense bill to light.

Scott T. Santarella
Santarella is president and CEO of the American Lung Association in New York