Efforts to ban smoking noble, timely

Published 6:43 am Wednesday, November 17, 2004

By Staff
Youngsters in the Brewton area are learning valuable and timely lessons as they work with the Escambia County Tobacco Coalition for smoke-free ordinances to provide healthier environments and fewer health problems for all citizens.
The young people involved in this initiative have appealed to the governing bodies of Brewton and East Brewton, asking them to pass ordinances banning smoking at least in restaurants and possibly in other public places.
This exercise is timely in that it was launched just prior to the American Cancer Society's annual Nov. 18 Great American Smokeout, an effort to encourage smokers to kick the habit for at least a day if not for life.
It also is timely in that, as the youngsters await response from the city councils in East Brewton and Brewton, the Alabama Legislature just yesterday passed bills making insurance premiums more expensive for state and education employees who use tobacco. The Legislature's actions reflect a growing trend for users of tobacco.
Each year, 65,000 Americans die from diseases related to tobacco carcinogens. Exposure to second-hand smoke is believed to cause at least 38,000 deaths each year in the United States, and more than a million illnesses in children, according to the National Institutes of Health.
There is no doubt that our culture is changing, and that those who do other things to excess will soon join the ranks of tobacco users paying more for health insurance.
We salute those leading the efforts to make more public places smoke-free, and teaching young people important lessons of democracy in the process. And we encourage the two city councils to give serious consideration to their requests.