Ban outdoor smoking

Dear Editor:I am a Downey resident, LAUSD teacher, and mother of three, and I am concerned about secondhand smoke in places where children and families go to spend time together in Downey. I am mainly concerned with smoking in Downey parks and public events, like the summer concerts. I have three active children that love going to the parks and local events, but at times I limit myself from taking them there because one of my children is asthmatic. I am hopeful that we can adopt a policy to make our community parks and public events free from the influence of tobacco use. I strongly believe that we need to protect residents, children and our entire community from the harms of secondhand smoke. I believe that the majority of residents in the city favor having tobacco free parks. Even a survey conducted by the L.A. County Public Health Department showed that 81 percent of Downey residents support smoke-free parks, and 82 percent support smoke-free public events. Exposing children to secondhand smoke and cigarette litter should be a thing of the past. We should be able to enjoy our great public spaces to their full potential, without fear of exposure to a class-A carcinogen. While the health risks from secondhand smoke outdoors are not as great as those from smoke indoors, they are real and substantial. Secondhand smoke levels within three feet of a smoker outdoors can be as high as those indoors. Walking behind a smoker on the sidewalk, passing smokers outside a bar or being in a building where cigarette smoke drifts in from the street can make a person feel ill. The problem is greater for the tender lungs of children and those with respiratory conditions like asthma and emphysema. Outdoor smoking still can be stifling and unpleasant, in shelters, on benches and in eating areas, and the butts have to go somewhere. All too often, that means they're tossed on the ground, a common sight in public areas like parks. Cigarette butts are toxic and slow to decompose. They do not belong in parks where children play. Finally, I feel that if more parks were smoke-free, people would be more likely to use them. A park and a city-sponsored event should be places where children are safe to breathe fresh air. Our children should have the right to play in parks that are smoke free and clean. -- Claudia Silva, Downey

********** Published: October 20, 2011 - Volume 10 - Issue 27