Readers Respond

Monday, April 30, 2007

Smokeless Storm Lake

To the Editor:

Recently I ate at one of my favorite restaurants in Storm Lake and sat on the non-smoking side of the restaurant. Soon after ordering, a man at the table directly behind where I was sitting, literally inches away, lit up a cigarette. Right underneath the "No Smoking in this area" sign, he was holding it in my direction, and blowing the smoke towards me. When I asked a staff member to ask him to stop smoking, I was told that if all the smoking tables are full, smoking is allowed everywhere.

Why does a whole room of people have to suffer for one man's enjoyment? Why do I have to endure the smell of smoke, and all the health problems that go along with second-hand smoke, for one man's habit?

I strongly believe that Storm Lake should go smoke-free. I go to school in Omaha, NE which recently went smoke-free citywide. People are no longer allowed to smoke in restaurants or bars and it is so much more enjoyable to go out. Non-smokers now get to enjoy fresh, healthier air when they choose to have a night out on the town. Everyone gets to go home with clear lungs and cleaner clothes.

In June, 2006 the U.S. Surgeon General, Dr. Richard H. Carmona issued a comprehensive scientific report which concluded that there is no risk-free level of exposure to secondhand smoke. Nonsmokers exposed to secondhand smoke at home or work increase their risk of developing heart disease by 25 to 30 percent and lung cancer by 20 to 30 percent. The finding is of major public health concern because nearly half of all nonsmoking Americans are still regularly exposed to secondhand smoke. Research demonstrated that even brief secondhand smoke exposure can cause immediate harm. The report says the only way to protect nonsmokers from the dangerous chemicals in secondhand smoke is to eliminate smoking indoors.

I ask City Council Members to strongly consider a city ordinance for smoke-free restaurants and bars.

- Amanda Koster, Fonda