Thanks for consideration
I would like to thank Winthrop University for considering my induction into the recent Sports Hall of Fame class of 2009. It was a great honor just to be nominated to this great hall. I would also like to thank Rob Simpson for all the hard work he put in on my behalf. Also thanks to Coach Neild Gordon, Andy Solomon, Charles Brynson and Bennie Bennitt for their letters of support.
Tim W. Raxter
Protecting public is constitutional
In a recent letter to The Herald, Dan Sexton complains about proposed city and county smoking ordinances. He claims that "more people die each year from..." and follows with a list of things purportedly more lethal than secondhand smoke. Public health officials have determined that approximately 53,000 non-smokers die each year from exposure to other people's tobacco smoke, so finding things more deadly is no easy task.
His list is below, followed by the actual number of annual deaths, rounded to the nearest thousand. My data is from the National Vital Statistics Report, produced annually by the Center for Disease Control, the agency assigned by our government with the task of tracking mortality: Auto crashes, 44,000; falls, 20,000; poisoning, 33,000; fire and burns, 4,000; drowning, 4,000; firearms, 31,000. The government doesn't track "suffocation" as a separate category, but I'm not aware of any ongoing epidemic.
The government sites from which I have gathered these numbers are www.cdc.gov and cancercontrol.cancer.gov.
Mr. Sexton is entitled to his own opinion, but he is not entitled to his own "facts."
His letter goes on to state "the liberties and rights Americans enjoy trump everything," and I challenge this position as well. When the founding fathers declared it self-evident that all men are endowed with "certain inalienable rights," including "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness," please note they listed "life" first. Freedom is not absolute, and one man's rights end where the next man's begin. Our Constitution does not grant anyone the "right" to injure or kill others.
Public health experts around the world concur with our surgeon general, who wrote, "The scientific evidence is now indisputable: secondhand smoke is not a mere annoyance. It is a serious health hazard that can lead to disease and premature death in children and nonsmoking adults ... There is no risk-free level of secondhand smoke exposure."
The proposed ordinances do not make smoking illegal. Smokers will still be able to buy cigarettes and to burn as many as they desire, so long as they do so in places where they cannot harm innocent bystanders. There is nothing "unconstitutional" about protecting citizens from a preventable hazard. Check out the first paragraph of our Constitution, where the phrase "promote the general welfare" is placed ahead of "secure the blessings of liberty."
Alan Nichols, MD