E-cigs not hazardous and aid those who want to quit
As a public-health activist who has campaigned to ban smoking in workplaces for the past 25 years, I'm pleased that Herald-Leader editors have endorsed smoke-free workplace legislation in Kentucky.
But your recent editorial was dead wrong in opposing Rep. Stan Lee's critically important amendment to remove House Bill 190's unwarranted and counterproductive ban on electronic cigarette (e-cigarette) use.
Unlike combustible cigarettes, e-cigarettes emit no hazardous tobacco smoke and pose no risks to nonusers. As such, there is no public health rationale to ban e-cigarette use in workplaces or public places.
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E-cigarette use has never complicated enforcement of smoke-free workplace laws, which your editorial falsely asserted, as even morons can tell the difference between a burning cigarette and a smoke-free e-cigarette.
In sharp contrast to other claims in your editorial, e-cigarettes pose no known health risks to users, but instead provide health benefits to smokers every time they use an e-cigarette instead of smoking.
Existing evidence indicates that e-cigarettes are less hazardous than cigarettes, and have already helped millions of smokers quit and/or sharply reduce cigarette consumption.
Finally, Lee's amendment to remove e-cigarettes from HB 190 should be supported because the bill now falsely defines "smoking" as using a smoke-free e-cigarette.
Radically changing the definition of a word in a stealth attempt to ban the use of a lifesaving product is unethical and deceitful.
William T. Godshall
Executive director. Smokefree Pennsylvania.
Smoking good for my health
If I am forced to stop smoking or be banned from smoking outside my place of employment, it will lead to undue illness for me.
How can I say that? Well, I quit once per the request of my doctor and to save a lot of money. The pills I took to help me quit caused nausea, vomiting, trouble sleeping, nightmares and hallucinations.
My doctor only prescribed additional pills to counter the side effects. Instead of spending $80 a month on cigarettes I was spending well over $300 a month for pills.
Then came the anxiety, panic attacks and high blood pressure. By the time I was spending $500 a month on prescriptions and missing work due to illnesses, I decided it was time to go back to cigarettes.
I am back to perfect attendance on my job, my credit cards have been paid off, I am not taking prescription drugs, I no longer have panic attacks, and my blood pressure has returned to normal.
Smoking bans are created so doctors can push more pills and the drug companies can get richer. They also lead to discrimination by employers who sanction some of their most productive employees due to the myth that smokers drive up the cost of health care.
What I've paid into an insurance that I've rarely used could have paid off my house by now. In fact, after 35 years of smoking, I am in the best health I've ever been. To hear tobacco researchers, I should be dead by now.
Smoking killed grandmother
For the third year in a row, I spent Valentine's Day at the Kentucky State Capitol advocating for heart health. This year, I joined several hundred at a rally for House Bill 190 which would make all workplaces and public buildings in Kentucky smoke-free. I met with my representative and shared the story of my grandmother's smoking.
When she was a young woman in the 1940s, she carpooled with a group of women to work. The other women in the car smoked, which made it hard for my grandmother to breathe. They told her that if she would start smoking it wouldn't bother her anymore, so she did. She smoked for decades until the doctor told her if she didn't stop, she'd lose her legs. She passed away before my wedding.
Flash forward many years later and I was a new mother in Lexington. The city was considering adopting an ordinance that would prohibit smoking in workplaces and public buildings. Holding my baby girl, I attended the rally in support of the ordinance and was thrilled when it passed. I appreciate being able to raise my children in a smoke-free environment and hope all parents in our state get that same right.
Medical evidence supports ban
Thank you for your wisely written editorial calling for a statewide smoke-free law.
As you mentioned, Kentucky has the nation's highest smoking and lung cancer rates, and to reduce these statistics the General Assembly needs to pass a statewide smoke-free law that improves both our state's health and economy.
Secondhand smoke contains carcinogens and other toxins that not only harm smokers, but also everyone around them.
Medical evidence is now clear that secondhand smoke contributes to lung cancer, heart disease, asthma and COPD.
Strong smoke-free laws that cover all workplaces, including restaurants and bars, are the only effective way to protect employees and the public from this serious health hazard.
Smoking-related illnesses contribute to increased health care costs for individuals, companies, and society.
In fact, the Mayo Clinic and other groups have shown that communities which have become smoke-free experience significant drops in their rates of heart attacks in just the following year.
Shouldn't all of Kentucky enjoy the same health and economic benefits as Lexington and other smoke-free communities?
Reps. Susan Westrom, D-Lexington, and Julie Raque Adams, R-Louisville, sponsored legislation to do that.
When the Kentucky legislature convenes to consider the statewide smoke-free law, let's help it make the right choice.
If they hear from enough of their constituents, they will.
Please call your state representative and state senator at 800-372-7181 and tell them it's time for a smoke-free Kentucky.
Dr. Sylvia Cerel-Suhl
President, Board of the American Heart Association, Central Kentucky