Dear Mr. Mike Behan:
Drinking water is getting plenty of media attention these days. It is right for Canadians to expect a clean and safe water supply. But what about the air we breathe?
Second-hand cigarette smoke contains more than 4,000 chemicals. Over 50 of these are known to cause cancer. A non-smoking person next to a smoker will breathe up to ten times more harmful chemicals than the person smoking. The final result is not pretty—lung cancer, heart disease and stroke.
Children are the most at risk to second-hand smoke. Kids are smaller and breathe faster. It is common for children living in a smoky home to get pneumonia, bronchitis, ear infections, more frequent asthma attacks, colds, sore throats, and inflamed intestines. More than one-third of sudden infant deaths (SIDS) have been linked to the mother’s smoking.
So what is being done to protect people from second-hand cigarette smoke? For water problems, the water is tested regularly. For second-hand smoke, it is up to us to protect ourselves and our children. We must make our homes and cars smoke-free. We must support community by-laws that make all public spaces smoke-free.
Municipal by-laws are cropping up all across the country. They protect everyone from second-hand smoke. Big cities, like Ottawa and Sudbury, and smaller ones, like Terrace Bay, have cleared the air in public places. Our communities, our children and our health in northwestern Ontario are just as valuable as those in other places.
So what is the solution to improve the air we breathe?
There is only one answer—100% smoke free!
Pete Sarsfield, MD, FRCPC
Medical Officer of Health
and Chief Executive Officer