Monday night, 6/15, the Petaluma City Council will consider a measure banning smoking in city parks. The meeting will take place at Petaluma City Hall beginning at 7 PM.

Letter to the Petaluma City Council:

If a terrorist group detonated a chemical weapon of mass destruction that killed thousands of innocent Americans, the people of our country would be outraged. Our government would denounce the terrorists as heartless murderers and promise to bring them to justice. Why then is there no public outrage or condemnation of the cigarette smokers whose second-hand smoke causes the deaths of thousands of innocent people every year?

According to the American Lung Association’s Secondhand Smoke Fact Sheet*:

Secondhand smoke causes almost 50,000 deaths in adult nonsmokers in the United States each year. Secondhand smoke is especially harmful to young children. Secondhand smoke is responsible for between 150,000 and 300,000 lower respiratory tract infections in infants and children under 18 months of age, resulting in between 7,500 and 15,000 hospitalizations each year, and causes 1,900 to 2,700 sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) deaths in the United States annually.”

Every month over 4,000 people die because they inhaled second-hand cigarette smoke. In other words, second-hand cigarette smoke is responsible for the deaths of more Americans every month than the number of people killed by the terrorists on September 11 or the total number of Americans killed in combat in Iraq.

When cigarette smokers attempt to frame this discussion as one of government interference in our personal lives, they are blowing smoke to disguise the real issue. The real issue before us is not one of government interference but rather the threat to the public health posed by second-hand smoke.

I am not interested in taking away anyone’s rights. Nor am I advocating government interference in our private lives. I am only interested in protecting my right and the right of others to breathe air free of second-hand cigarette smoke and its poisonous contents.

Something smokers seem to forget is that their rights stop where the rights of others begin. While it is legal to smoke, no one has a right to smoke and certainly no one has a right to poison other people. And make no mistake about it, when you breathe in second-hand smoke, you are being poisoned!!!

I strongly urge the City Council to adopt the measure banning smoking in Petaluma parks and also to consider a comprehensive second-hand smoke ordinance that provides protections in entryways, outdoor dining areas, public events, service lines and in multi-unit housing.