To the editor:

Did you know that secondhand smoke contains more than 7,000 toxic chemicals? Of those 7,000 toxic chemicals, 70 are known carcinogens, or cancer-causing substances. According to the Centers for Disease Control, second hand smoke causes nearly 34,000 premature deaths from heart disease each year in the United State among non-smokers. Secondhand smoke causes more than 7,300 lung cancer deaths in the United States. Secondhand smoke affects the brain in infants and those exposed to secondhand smoke are at greater risk for Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. Locally, 25.8 percent of mothers smoked during pregnancy, which is significantly, higher than the state prenatal smoking rate of 17.1 percent.

Chemicals in tobacco smoke cause cell damage and inflammation weakening the immune system. Most secondhand exposure occurs in homes and at work. Secondhand smoke affects everyone, including children, which causes chronic ear infections, bronchitis, and pneumonia. Secondhand smoke can lead to heart disease, stroke, and cancer.

Let's try to combat the effects of secondhand smoke and limit the amount of exposure in Jefferson County not only for you, but for our children and their future. We can improve these conditions by continuing to support smoke-free establishments and encourage others to become smoke-free. If you or someone you know wants wanting to stop using tobacco products, please contact 1-800-QUIT-NOW. Indiana's tobacco quit line is available for anyone struggling with tobacco addiction.

Stephanie Bear

Jefferson County Tobacco

Prevention & Cessation Coordinator