We, as a state, can do much better in terms of safety in the health area. We could im­prove our standards for a healthy environment by creating a smoke-free envi­ronment for ourselves as well as our children. An ex­ample be­i ng, it’s nearly im­possible to walk Church Stre e t , a popular tourist at­traction and shopping center for residents, with­out encountering the nu­merous dangers of second­hand smoke. We, as a com­munity, need to create a much healthier place for our children to be raised where they can avoid the health risks associated with smoking cigarettes.

Many people argue that their businesses would be hurt because many of the residents and tourists that come to Church Street are people who smoke, but what's more important -- the environment we allow our children to live in being polluted with smoke cigarettes so that businesses can make a higher profit or sacrificing a little for the sake of their health?

The 2008 Vermont Adult Tobacco Survey Report says that since 2000, smoking cigarettes has decreased from 21 percent to 17 percent in 2008. It seems to be continuing to drop over the years as well, so how much of a loss will businesses actually experience considering 83 percent of the population consists of non-smokers? The survey taken in 2008 also concluded that "In 2008, about two-thirds of Vermont adults said they thought breathing smoke cigarettes from other people's cheap cigarettes is very harmful to one's health (64 percent)." The data is irrefutable and draws me to conclude that a change in policy is more than necessary. According to the same source even 49 percent of smokers believe secondhand smoke cigarettes to be very harmful.

Not only does much of the Vermont population choose not to partake in the dangers of smoking cigarettes, even smokers themselves know what risks they're taking by lighting up. If you know what you're doing to your own body, why would you do it to everyone around you?

The detrimental affects of secondhand smoke cigarettes on our health needs to be addressed promptly. It's up to us to create a better future for the next generations and this will set the bar high and make great strides toward a much healthier environment.

The affects of secondhand smoke cigarettes can be immediate and even brief exposure can cause harm to those of us with heart and respiratory diseases. The health risks associated with smoking cigarettes are being made more obvious as more research is conducted proving that cigarettes smoke cigarettes in any way, shape or form is harmful to the body. In an 2006 New York Times article called "A Warning on Hazards of Secondhand Smoke" by John O'Neil, Dr. Carmona, 17th surgeon general of the United States, is quoted by O'Neil as saying, "Dr. Carmona warned that measures like no-smoking cigarettes sections did not provide adequate protection, adding, 'Smoke-free environments are the only approach that protects nonsmokers from the dangers of secondhand smoke.'"

It may be a leap more than just a step in the right direction, but a complete ban of smoking cigarettes in places like Church Street is more than necessary for our health and the health of our children. If we put effort into enforcing such a ban there will be significant changes in the health of Vermonters and it will provide our children with a smoke-free environment so that they can enjoy life without risking long term health affects from constant exposure to secondhand smoke.

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