Emil Steinke, M.D. and Stuart Topley, M.D. letter: Council should put bans on smoking
The Moorhead City Council still has an opportunity to save lives and protect the health of area citizens. With four cities in the region considering smoke-free ordinances, the council's decision will have a tremendous impact on health in the Farg...
The Moorhead City Council still has an opportunity to save lives and protect the health of area citizens. With four cities in the region considering smoke-free ordinances, the council's decision will have a tremendous impact on health in the Fargo-Moorhead area. Every day physicians see patients suffering from tobacco-related diseases that could have been prevented: lung cancer, heart disease, stroke.
Smoke from cigarettes and from smoke exhaled by smokers contains 200 poisons, including arsenic and formaldehyde, as well as 43 cancer-causing ingredients. Protecting Moorhead citizens from exposure to secondhand smoke is literally a matter of life or death. At least 40 separate, scientific studies have found that exposure to secondhand smoke causes lung cancer in healthy non-smokers. The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that 53,000 Americans die each year because of lung cancer and heart disease related to secondhand smoke.
Secondhand smoke is especially dangerous for bar and restaurant workers. Employees exposed to secondhand smoke on the job are three times more likely to develop lung cancer. Waitresses have the highest death rate of any occupational group of women -- a four times higher rate of death from lung cancer and a two and a half times higher rate of death from heart disease.
Damage leading to heart disease starts quickly. Even brief exposure to secondhand smoke -- just 30 minutes -- increases hardening of the arteries, which contributes to heart disease.
Passing a smoke-free ordinance will not only prevent direct damage caused by secondhand smoke, it will also help smokers who are trying to quit. Secondhand smoke contains nicotine -- the highly addictive ingredient that makes it so difficult to stop smoking. Nicotine added to the smell of cigarette smoke and the example of other people lighting up make it very hard for someone who is addicted not to reach for a cigarette.
It's important to pass a simple, comprehensive smoke-free ordinance. Ventilation systems and designated smoking sections do not protect people from the dangerous toxins in secondhand smoke, according to the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air Conditioning Engineers.
Physicians are urging the Moorhead City Council to pass a bill that would prevent disease, save lives and make it easier for smokers to beat their addiction to cigarettes.
Emil Steinke, M.D.
Stuart Topley, M.D.
Dakota Clinic Ltd.