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Volume 72, Issue 17, Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Opinion
 

Letters to the Editor

Issue reignited

To the editor:

The Houston City Council passed a ban on smoking in all restaurants last year, inciting a heated debate on both sides of the issue. Now, the City Council is considering strengthening the ban by including bars as places where lighting up is forbidden, reigniting the standoff.

Some smokers aren't sold on the "secondhand smoke is dangerous" spiel and value the personal choice to hurt their health by lighting up. 

Dave Pickrell of Katy said that by banning smoking in public establishments, the city sends the message that smokers are second-class citizens.

City officials who support smoking bans say the health and welfare of the public is at stake. Nonsmokers are rallying behind these officials.

Indeed, the scientific findings do tend to fall on the side of the nonsmokers. 

U.S. Surgeon General Richard Carona said in a recent report that breathing secondhand smoke increases risk of heart disease by almost twofold. 

"Second-hand smoke is not a mere annoyance," Carona said. "It is a serious health hazard that can lead to disease and premature death in children and nonsmoking adults." 

In addition to heart disease, the list of ailments caused by passive smoking includes brain tumors, breast cancer and lung cancer. According to the report, 3,400 nonsmokers died of lung cancer, 46,000 died of heart disease and 430 babies died of sudden infant death syndrome in 2005. All of these deaths were linked to second-hand smoke.

Although people on both sides of this debate have rights, scientific fact trumps opinion. While smokers have the right to light up, they do not have the right to endanger the health of others in public places.

Dawn Rorie
English senior


Letters Policy

Letters to the editor are welcome from all members of the UH community and should focus on issues, not personalities. Letters must be typed and must include the author's name, telephone number and affiliation with the University. Anonymous letters will not be published. Letters are subject to editing for clarity, language and space. Letters may be delivered in person to Room 151, Communication; e-mailed to dclettrs@mail.uh.edu ; or faxed to (713) 743-5384.

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