Kudos to Rehoboth on proposed smoking ban

February 21, 2014

Kudos to our community leaders for demonstrating courage in moving forward with an ordinance to ban smoking on the beach, Boardwalk, Bandstand and city parks (Cape Gazette Feb. 18, 2014).

As the son of a lifelong smoker, I know how difficult it can be for some to “kick the habit.” I am also well aware of the counter arguments that smokers put forward concerning their “rights.” I don’t hear those arguments as often now since my parent died of lung cancer eight years ago, but I still have the legacy of respiratory difficulties from growing up with secondhand smoke. The risks of secondhand smoke were not as well understood when I was young, but ignorance is no longer an excuse.

According to the Centers for Disease Control secondhand smoke (i.e., the combination of smoke from the burning end of a cigarette and the smoke breathed out by smokers) contains more than 7,000 chemicals, hundreds of which are toxic - including at least 70 that can cause cancer. There is no risk-free level of exposure to secondhand smoke. Secondhand smoke causes numerous health problems in infants and children, including severe asthma attacks, respiratory infections, ear infections, and sudden infant death syndrome. Health conditions caused by secondhand smoke in adults include heart disease and lung cancer.

As a resort community that hopes to attract families with children, Rehoboth Beach should be especially sensitive to the CDC’s recommendations for helping parents to protect their children from secondhand smoke, including:

• Do not allow anyone to smoke near your child

• Teach children to stay away from secondhand smoke

With the option of smoke free beaches in nearby Bethany Beach, concerned parents (and everyone who breathes) would be well advised to avoid Rehoboth Beach unless and until a smoking ban is passed.

The article mentions the efforts of Steve Curson, Stan Mills, Bill Sargent, Lorraine Zellers and Carol Everhart, all of whom deserve our thanks as do others who have raised this issue in recent years.

I expect that we’ll hear from those who feel their rights are infringed by a smoking ban and urge our leaders to stand firm in protecting the rights of our children (and everyone who breathes).

Michael Bednarek
Rehoboth Beach

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