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Make smoke-free laws a priority in 2011

Publication Date: 2010-12-12
  • Author:Letter: Tony Schmitt
  • Publication:Evansville Courier & Press

To the editor:

It's time our lawmakers act to protect their constituents and pass legislation that makes all workplaces -- including bars, restaurants, and casinos -- smoke-free.

The health hazards of secondhand smoke are indisputable. So the question remains, when are our elected officials going to protect all workers?

Secondhand smoke is not a partisan issue, but a matter of public health. As such, our Indiana legislators have a special and urgent responsibility to act.

I serve as the chairman for the Smoke Free Evansville Coalition of the Indiana Tobacco Cessation and Prevention. As a registered respiratory therapist I have cared for thousands of Hoosiers suffering from tobacco use and secondhand smoke.

My father died of COPD at the age of 49; I was 17 years old. Now my brother and sister have chronic bronchitis and emphysema. My mother and I both suffer from asthma due to the long-term exposure. My children all have airway disease and are prone to chronic infections, a result of second-hand smoke from my father-in-law, who died from emphysema and cancer.

Everyone is wanting to change and "go green" in every way; we cannot clean up our environment and not address this gigantic environmental and health hazard.

I urge our state legislators to make a smoke-free law the top priority moving into this next legislative session.

Tony Schmitt


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