Snuff out smoking

Published 1:00 am Sunday, November 20, 2011

The American Cancer Society celebrated the 36th Great American Smokeout on Thursday. For millions of American smokers, there’s never been a better time to make a plan to quit.

As a former smoker, cancer survivor and cancer advocate, I’ve learned that living a healthy life means first and foremost living smoke-free. This is a message I want to share with others struggling to quit this deadly habit.

In addition to encouraging smokers to quit, the Great American Smokeout is about protecting all Americans from the deadly effects of secondhand smoke. The U.S. Surgeon General has determined that there is no risk-free level of exposure to secondhand smoke, which is a major cause of lung cancer, heart disease and emphysema. In fact, secondhand smoke is responsible for 3,400 lung cancer deaths annually and another 46,000 deaths from heart disease in otherwise healthy nonsmokers.

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Elected officials have the power to protect the patrons and workers of Mississippi by passing a comprehensive smoke-free law so that we can all breathe smoke-free air. Smoke-free laws not only help protect workers and patrons from being exposed to deadly secondhand smoke, but they also help smokers quit.

I urge our legislature to join more than 470 communities, 23 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands that are smoke-free by passing a law to protect all the citizens of Mississippi from this serious health hazard.

Pearl W. Carter

American Cancer Society volunteer