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Good evening council members. My name is Tricia Robbins and I’m a volunteer with the Mesquite Citizens for Clean Indoor Air.
As we relay information about the risks of secondhand smoke, I want to speak about one of the most important – and obvious – ones: lung health.
If you’ve ever tried smoking a cigarette, odds are it made you cough. That’s no wonder. Smoke doesn’t belong in the lungs, especially when it contains toxic chemicals.
Tobacco smoke is dangerous whether it’s inhaled directly by a person smoking a cigarette or by a non-smoker breathing the same air.
According to American Cancer Society, secondhand smoke contains at least 70 chemicals shown to cause cancer. In fact, secondhand smoke causes lung cancer even in people who have never smoked.
According to the National Cancer Institute, approximately 3,000 non-smokers in the U.S. die from lung cancer each year due to secondhand smoke exposure.
Non-smokers exposed to secondhand smoke on the job or at home have a 20 to 30 percent higher risk for developing lung cancer.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health recognize that there is no safe level of secondhand smoke exposure. And the U.S. Surgeon General has said that smokefree workplaces are the only way to prevent exposure on the job.
The only way to make a public, indoor space safe from secondhand smoke is to eliminate it entirely from a building. Separating smokers and non-smokers, trying to clean the air, or ventilating buildings can’t prevent non-smokers from being exposed to smoke.
In addition to lung cancer, secondhand smoke can trigger dangerous asthma attacks and make it more difficult for people with COPD to breathe.
We all pay for the health costs associated with tobacco use and exposure, whether we smoke or not.
Our lungs deserve clean, healthy air to breathe whether we’re recreating or doing business in public spaces. Likewise, no employee should be forced to put their health at risk because their workplace allows indoor smoking.
We can prevent disease and death by making our public indoor air safe to breathe. As council members, you have both the ability and responsibility to protect Mesquite residents from secondhand smoke exposure indoors. We urge you to make this happen.