We, citizens of the Quad Cities along with members of the Tobacco-Free QC Coalition, believe that being able to use tobacco products freely in public locations, specifically parks and playgrounds, is detrimental to the public well-being and health of our community’s youth.
Young people should be able to visit public locations without the risk of tobacco exposure. Public use of tobacco sets a negative example for the community’s young people, as well as exposes them to dangerous chemicals and toxins which can have serious health effects on growing children. Moreover, waste products from tobacco use (i.e. discarded matches, cigarette butts, etc.) hinder the natural beauty of our environment.
Therefore, it is proposed that tobacco use be disallowed on all days of the week within 100 yards of playground equipment and family-centered events at public parks through an addition or change to city code. By doing so, public health, wellness and comfort will improve, particularly for our community’s children and families.
-Community Health Care
-Genesis Health System
-Rock Island Health Department
-Scott County Health Department
-Tobacco-Free QC Coalition
May 31 is World No Tobacco Day, an annual awareness day sponsored by the World Health Organization (WHO) since 1987 to draw worldwide attention to the tobacco epidemic and the preventable death and disease it causes. This year’s theme focuses on global tobacco advertising, promotion, and sponsorship. Tobacco companies market their products with messages and offers that often appeal to youth. World No Tobacco Day is a good time to work towards further protecting youth from tobacco industry marketing so they can avoid the negative health consequences caused by tobacco use.
Secondhand smoke is a serious problem that can potentially affect the health of people regardless of their age or gender. Also referred to as environmental tobacco smoke, secondhand smoke is a serious health risk that causes many of the same health problems as seen in people who voluntarily smoke. It is such a health risk that it results in the deaths of roughly 50,000 non-smokers annually. Secondhand smoke is formed by the mixture of a smoker’s exhaled smoke and the lit end of the cigarette, cigar, etc. When this combination of tobacco smoke fills the space of a room it is inhaled by the people who are present. This is called passive or involuntary smoking. When this happens the non-smoker is taking in many of the same harmful chemicals into their lungs. The Centers for Disease Control reports that secondhand smoke contains 250 toxins and that 50 of them are known carcinogens.
Because of the dangerous chemicals found in secondhand smoke, it is considered a major problem by health organizations such as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the International Agency for Research on Cancer. These agencies label it as a cancer-causing agent, or a known human carcinogen. The longer a non-smoking person is exposed to this type of smoke the higher his or her chance is of developing not only lung cancer, but also throat, voice box, brain, stomach, breast, and bladder cancers. In addition to cancer, secondhand smoke may also cause a number of other diseases which result in a numerous deaths yearly. For example, it is responsible for causing heart disease in non-smokers. As many as 300,000 passive-smoking children under the age of 18 months suffer from lower respiratory tract infections. Children exposed to secondhand smoke are also more likely to require intensive care if they develop the flu and are likely to require breathing tubes. Women who are pregnant are also at risk of having a miscarriage, delivering babies with low birth weights, or of having a baby who develops a rare type of cancer while in the uterus which is known as hepatoblastoma.
Over the years the findings and reports generated by the Surgeon General have made great strides toward educating the public about secondhand smoke and the dangers associated with it. Reports have warned people that the only way to prevent non-smokers from developing health problems associated with secondhand smoke is to prevent all exposure to it. This includes preventing indoor smoking and keeping buildings well ventilated. Although some states make it illegal to smoke indoors, others do not. In states where indoor smoking is not prohibited, non-smokers may be exposed to tobacco smoke in public places such as restaurants, in shopping centers, on public transportation, and even in daycare centers or schools. People can avoid this by choosing to frequent locations that ban smoking indoors. This is particularly important when choosing schools for children.
Smoking in one’s home cannot, however, be regulated by the state. This is where passive smoking can become problematic if one person in the household is a smoker but others are not. There must be serious dialogue between the smoker and the non-smoker in order to prevent smoking inside of the house at all times as smoke will not only be in the air, but it will also settle on furniture, the walls, and bedding. Particles from smoke may settle and blend in with dust and other particles. This contains cancer causing agents as well and is often referred to as residual tobacco smoke, or thirdhand smoke. Smoking at home can quickly become a danger to the entire family and can quickly cause or exacerbate health problems in children. As with the home, secondhand smoke can quickly buildup within the small confines of a car and become hazardous to all who travel in it, whether the smoker is currently smoking inside the vehicle or not. In some states, smoking in cars with small children is prohibited.
The best way to avoid the dangers associated with environmental tobacco smoke is to stay away from it. To accomplish this it is important that smokers in the household respect the health of others and smoke only outside of the home. This may save their children and other loved ones from developing cancer, heart disease or other illnesses as a result of their habit. For people who wish to eliminate cigarette smoke but aren’t yet ready to stop smoking, there are smokeless devices that may be used as an alternative to cigarettes. Personal vaporizers, or electronic cigarettes are one such option. They provide the same physical sensation as smoking traditional cigarettes; however, there is no smoke for others around them to inhale. Electronic cigars and pipes are also available. Other replacements for cigarettes include chewing gum, which keeps the jaw occupied.