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Friday, March 26, 2010

Springfield should lead state in becoming smoke-free area

Springfield should lead state in becoming smoke-free area

March 26, 2010

Our neighboring state of Kansas recently became the 29th U.S. state to pass a comprehensive clean indoor air law and the 39th state to have a smoke-free law of some kind. The American Heart Association salutes Kansas for stepping forward to embrace the reality that going smoke-free is not only good for health, it's good for business. It saves lives, saves money and protects workers.

A recent report from the U.S. Surgeon General concluded that there is no risk-free level of exposure to secondhand smoke. This finding is a major public health concern due to the fact that nearly half of all nonsmoking Americans are still regularly exposed to secondhand smoke.

On the heels of the Surgeon General's findings, the Institute of Medicine issued its own report in October of 2009 that links exposure to secondhand smoke to acute cardiovascular events such as heart attack and unstable angina. This report reviewed key studies and concluded that there is a relationship between clean indoor air laws and decreases in acute coronary events. In other words, clean indoor air in public places translates into fewer heart attacks! That means that by going completely smoke-free, our community has an opportunity to see a decline in heart disease, the number one killer of men and women in the United States, in Missouri, and in Springfield.

For all of these reasons, the American Heart Association has joined a rapidly growing local grassroots movement represented by the One Air Alliance to encourage Springfield to lead the journey toward smoke-free air in Missouri. Just like communities in Kansas stepped forward one-by-one to address the health needs of their citizens, it is time for Springfield to do the same. With Springfield leading, other communities throughout Missouri will soon follow. We have an opportunity and a privilege to do the right thing, and now is the time.

As Springfield steps forward, the American Heart Association stands proudly with the local One Air Alliance to promote smoke-free environments and smoking cessation programs designed to provide this community with the clean air that it deserves. Our health depends on our success. Will you join us in our efforts to improve the quality of the public air that we share?

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