Letter to the Editor

Community center going smoke free July 1

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

To the Editor:

Cunot Community and Senior Citizen Center will implement a non-smoking policy effective July 1.

Smoking will not be allowed on the grounds, and a suitable area will be designated.

Smoking has long played an important role in popular culture and shaping of personal identity. This relationship helps to explain smoking's persistence, despite widespread anti-smoking campaigns. In 1985, the American Lung Association addressed the problem of secondhand smoke or side-stream smoke.

While the smoke you inhale is potentially harmful to your health, you at least are not re-breathing the smoke you inhale into your lungs. It is filtered by the cigarette, the filter and then your lungs, and then exhaled. While still dangerous, it is filtered, mainstream smoke.

The smoke that rises off the burning end of a cigarette is called side-stream smoke and has not been filtered. It is highly concentrated with chemicals and is potentially dangerous.

This represents a danger to the smoker as well as the non-smoker who is exposed to it in a closed area. Cunot Community Center debated this issue pro and con. We realize this is not a popular decision -- 90 percent of our most dedicated volunteers are smokers; 75 to 80 percent of our weekly bingo players are smokers.

The community center's main source of revenue is weekly bingo. And we, the board members who voted to go non-smoking, have no quarrel with your smoking. We simply ask that you do it outside so the members of the community who do not want to be exposed to secondhand smoke do not have to do so.

Many of us already have health problems; some of them may be related to previous years of smoking. We have chosen to stop in an attempt to stay as healthy as possible.

We realize that it is fashionable to defend this practice as a smoker's right. I contend the non-smoking community's right to breathable air antedates a smoker's right to pollute the air in an enclosed space, endangering our health and violating our rights.

We encourage everyone to continue to volunteer, and to participate in functions. We look forward to seeing each and every one of you; we love you too much to lose you.

Thelma Trowbridge

Cunot Community Board