Dr. Eric Johnson, Grand Forks, letter: Debate is over about secondhand smokeThe fact is that in 2012, the science supports reduction of exposure to secondhand smoke for all North Dakotans.
By: Dr. Eric Johnson,
GRAND FORKS — As a health care provider, I know that the health hazards from smoking are apparent.
In 2006, secondhand smoke dangers were clearly summarized. Surgeon General Richard Carmona stated, “The debate is over. The science is clear. Secondhand smoke is not a mere annoyance, but a serious health hazard.”
Secondhand smoke contains more than 7,000 chemicals, including at least 69 — including arsenic, ammonia, formaldehyde and polonium 210 — that cause cancer.
According to the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 50,000 Americans die each year from lung cancer and heart disease attributable to secondhand smoke exposure. Studies show that children, the elderly and people with respiratory illnesses are especially vulnerable to secondhand smoke. For example, children exposed to secondhand smoke are more susceptible to bronchitis, asthma, eye and ear problems and other ailments.
In Grand Forks, reduction of secondhand smoke by city ordinance is associated with fewer heart attacks in our community.
The fact is that in 2012, the science supports reduction of exposure to secondhand smoke for all North Dakotans.
Herald readers have the chance to help North Dakotans regain and retain the healthful environment that we all seek to live in. By voting “yes” on Measure 4 on the November ballot, readers can help North Dakota join the ranks of our neighbors in Minnesota, Montana, South Dakota and Manitoba in reducing the harm from secondhand smoke.
Dr. Johnson is a family physician at Altru Health System and an assistant Professor in the Department of Family and Community Medicine at the UND School of Medicine and Health Sciences.