House looks to restrict smoking

Published 12:00 am Friday, March 14, 2003

If a certain state committee has its way, people who smoke will in the near future have fewer places to exercise their activity.

The Alabama House Health Committee approved a bill Wednesday that would restrict smoking in many buildings across the state, according to a story by The Associated Press.

The committee voted unanimously to send the bill to the full House, and a similar bill was approved by the Senate Tuesday.

The proposed bill would restrict smoking in public places, such as restaurants and sports arenas, to designated areas and would ban smoking entirely in health care facilities, daycare centers and on public transportation.

The bill is being proposed in order to protect the health of nonsmokers from the supposed dangers of second-hand smoke.

Rep. Ron Grantland, D-Hartselle is the sponsor of the bill, and he said he is very concerned about keeping those who opt not to smoke safe.

"The fact is that second-hand smoke is more dangerous than smoke inhaled into the lungs," said Grantland.

Representatives from a some local agencies said they would have no problem with the bill if it were to come to fruition.

"At our daycare, we do not allow smoking around the children at all," said Ruth Worley, owner of Little People's Love and Care daycare facility in Andalusia. "I don't think smoking should be allowed in certain places, and especially not around children, so I definitely would agree with the bill."

Patricia Daniels of Toyland Daycare in Andalusia also echoed Worley's statement.

"We can't have any smoking at our faciility because of the health of the kids," said Daniels. "I am highly opposed to smoking in places like daycares."

Ruth Edson, program director for the Covington Area Transit System (CATS), said she also would not have any dispute with the bill.

"We already do not allow smoking at all on our vehicles, and we have been a smoke-free program for several years," said Edson. "We do not even allow our drivers to smoke on the vehicles, so the bill would not create any problems for us."

According to various health sources, exposure by non-smokers to smokers can result in more than just irritation and inconvenience, but also in serious health risks. Some of the health risks associated with exposure to second-hand smoke can include:

An increased risk for developing cancer of the lungs, mouth, pharynx, larynx, esophagus, sinuses, thyroid gland, bladder, kidney, pancreas, breast, uterus and cervix.

Increased risk for developing lung diseases, such as bronchitis, emphysema

and pneumonia.

A greater likelihood of impaired lung function and respiratory illness, including asthma, pneumonia and bronchitis, in the children of smokers.

Greater likelihood of heart disease, chronic middle ear infections and allergies in the children of smokers.

Increased risk of developing cardiovascular diseases such as hardening of the arteries, reduced blood and oxygen flow to various parts and organs of the body, heart attack, high blood pressure and stroke.

Increased risk for miscarriage, stillbirth, premature birth or low birth weight babies.

Increased levels of carbon monoxide and other toxic substances in the blood.

Physical addiction to nicotine and withdrawal symptoms (such as irritability and insomnia) when the tobacco use is stopped.

Psychological addiction to tobacco products.

Gum disease and staining of teeth.

Eye, nose and throat irritation.