Dear Editor: Now that the smoke has cleared from the fireworks, let's celebrate smoke-free clean air all across Wisconsin on Friday, July 5 — the ninth anniversary of the state’s smoke-free air law.

It’s hard to believe: less than a decade ago, the notion of smoke-free restaurants, bars, shopping malls and businesses was considered controversial and deadly to commerce. Today, smoke-free environments are an expectation and business is thriving.

As great as this law is, it’s not perfect. In 2010, there were no e-cigarettes to include in the law. So while e-cigarettes emit gasses and vapors that affect innocent bystanders, the state law doesn’t offer any protection from secondhand exposure to e-cigarette chemicals. Each year, more research emerges to identify the harmful toxins in e-cigarette vapors that nearby “non-vapers” are exposed to.

Many Wisconsin communities acted to protect the health of their citizens and visitors by updating their local laws to prohibit the use of e-cigarettes in public places. Madison, Waunakee, Oregon, Stoughton and Dane County’s unincorporated areas are secondhand aerosol-free.

But every Wisconsinite should have the same protection from secondhand aerosols, the same expectation and right to breathe clean air in public places.

The Tobacco-Free Columbia-Dane County Coalition, and everyone working to protect clean air and help people avoid the health problems associated with tobacco and e-cigarette use, are celebrating the impact of Wisconsin’s smoke-free air law. Let’s work together to update the laws to assure that all businesses in Wisconsin are as free of secondhand aerosols as they are of secondhand smoke.

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If you’re ready to quit, there’s free help available through the Wisconsin Tobacco Quit Line: 1-800-QUIT NOW (784-8669).

Lauren Cnare, Chair, Tobacco-Free Columbia-Dane County Coalition

Madison

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