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.
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
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