Asthma, heart disease and sudden infant death are side effects of secondhand smoke, which is why the American Cancer Society, American Lung Association, American Heart Association, Smoke-Free for Health and several other organizations all teamed up to put the new Amendment 6 on the ballot for the November elections.
“Amendment 6 will save lives,” said April Herrle, spokeswoman for Smoke-Free for Health. Amendment 6 is the new Smoke-Free for Health Initiative. The reasoning behind the new initiative is to make all restaurants, workplaces and public establishments smoke-free and give all Floridians their basic right, their ability to breath in clean air. “You should have the right to not breath in smoke,” said Tony Hastings, staff development coordinator for Respiratory Care Department at Tallahassee Memorial Hospital.
However, according to www.smokefreeforhealth.org, about 5 million Floridians do not have that right and are exposed to secondhand smoke on a daily basis. Approximately, 1 million of these people encounter smoke while working whether it’s in restaurants or other workplaces and over 650,000 Floridians have already made complaints against secondhand smoke by signing a petition for Amendment 6 to persuade the Supreme Court to allow the amendment on the ballot.
The state of California has been smoke-free for several years, said Jolean McPherson, state communications manager for the American Cancer Society.
Herrle said Florida has been working with California representatives to persuade the state Legislature to listen to the concerns of Floridians and model after California’s success in becoming a smoke-free state.
After about six to seven years of hard work and with help from California, the Florida Legislature approved the proposition to allow the amendment on the November ballot.
The main concerns of the citizens and organizations involved with the passing of the proposition were health concerns. People who work in bars breathe in an average of about half a pack of cigarettes a day, said Herrle.
Upon inhaling this smoke it travels to the sacs within the lungs, alveoli, and fills these pockets up with tar from the smoke. This then causes the white blood cells to react. The white blood cells eat the tar while accidentally secreting chemicals that will destroy the lungs. These chemicals cause lung cancer, bronchitis and COPD, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, according to Hastings.
Secondhand smoke alone contains 200 chemicals and 43 cancer causing agents according to www.smokefreeforhealth.org. These deadly carcinogens in the body are what cause the lungs to decay.
Those health concerns caused over half a million Floridians to sign the petition to allow Amendment 6 on the ballots Nov. 5. Now, that it is on the ballot will you “Vote yes on Amendment 6,” said McPherson.