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May 24, 2010 - Image 4

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Publication:
Michigan Daily Summer Weekly, 2010-05-24

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Monday, May 24, 2010
The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

CLIFF DOUGLAS|I
Smoking ban will save lives

Edited and managed by students at
the University of Michigan since 1890.
420 Maynard St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109
tothedaily@umich.edu

ANDREW LAPIN
EDITOR IN CHIEF

RYAN KARTJE
MANAGING EDITOR

ALEX SCHIFF
EDITORIAL PAGE EDITI

Unsigned editorials reflect the official position of the Daily's editorial board.
All othersigned articles and illustrations represent solely the views of their authors.
A right to education
Michigan students deserve more than a temporary fix
Jt seems that the Michigan State Legislature has adopted a new man-
tra: out with the old and in with the new. With the idea of saving the
school district money, Democratic Gov. Jennifer Granholm recently
signed a law providing tenured teachers incentives to retire, allowing new,
younger teachers commanding lower salaries to take their place. Given the
alternatives, this is the preferable course of action for the state to take. But
with cuts to education becoming as regular as the seasons over the past
decade, legislators must work to guarantee that a solvent, sustainable and
successful public education system a right for Michigan children.

Michigan recently took a strong step
toward protecting our community's
health by making virtually all res-
taurants, bars, workplaces and public
places smoke-free.
The governor signed the measure
into law because it has been demon-
strated, time and again, that smoke-
free policies improve indoor air quality,
protect the health of non-smokers,
reduce emergency hospitalizations for
heart attacks, decrease cigarette con-
sumption, encourage smokers to quit
and change social norms regarding the
acceptability of smoking.
The facts supporting the adoption of
such measures are stark. Worldwide,
the tobacco epidemic killed 100 million
people in the 20th century and is pro-
jected to kill one billion people world-
wide in the 21st.
In the United States, smoking
kills an estimated 443,000 people
each year, with secondhand smoke
responsible for 50,000 of those
deaths, including 1,700 in Michigan.
Approximately 8,600,000 people in
the United States have chronic ill-
nesses related to smoking.
And it's no wonder why. Every bil-
lowofsmoke fromacigarettecontains
hydrogen cyanide, arsenic, benzene
and radioactive polonium 210, as well
as dozens of other carcinogenic, or
cancer-causing, substances. Addi-
tives used by the manufacturers cer-
tainly don't help, but it is the tobacco
itself that is responsible for most of
the cancer-causing and toxic effects
of cigarettes. In other words, using
"organic" or "additive-free" tobacco
doesn't help.
Many people now know that both
smoking and secondhand smoke
exposure cause lung cancer and asth-
ma attacks, but many areunawarethat
secondhand smoke, like direct smok-
ing, also causes heart disease, acute
respiratory infections, ear problems
and sudden infant death syndrome, to
name just a few concerns. They don't
know that tobacco use causes more
deaths than HIV/AIDS, alcohol use,
cocaine use, heroincuse, homicides,
suicides, motor vehicle crashes anad
fires - combined.
When it comes to secondhand
smoke, some people incorrectlybelieve
that openinga window, sittingin a sep-
arate area within the same airspace or
using a fan protects bystanders from
harm. However, a 2006 report by the

U.S. Surgeon General concluded that
there is no risk-free level of expo-
sure. The only genuine protection is
100-percentsmoke-free environments.
With passage of the new smoke-free
law, Michigan has committed itself to
saving lives and protecting its resi-
dents. Additionally, it joins the grow-
ing number of jurisdictions that have
done so. As of the month of March,
24 states, the District of Columbia
and Puerto Rico have enacted simi-
larly comprehensive smoke-free laws.
(An additional 14 states had adopted
less comprehensive smoke-free laws
that cover some venues.) Well over
a dozen countries have also enacted
strong smoke-free laws. Even Ireland
eliminated smoking in all pubs with
overwhelming public support several
years ago.
The right not to be harmed by the
conduct of others is deeply embedded
in our culture and in our laws. By con-
trast, there is no state or federal con-
stitutional right to smoke. As a civil
libertarian, it is my personal belief
that adults should have the right to
make their own, informed decisions
about their personal conduct. That
prerogative does not extend to engag-
ing in activities that place others at
risk against their will, whether they
areour friends, ourfellowworkers, our
children or members of the public.
Most people these days are naturally
concerned about the health impact of
tobacco use, and 70 percent of smokers
report that they want to quit. If you are
one of them, low-cost (or free) assis-
tance is immediately available.You can
start by going to www.smokefree.gov,
calling 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-
8669) or talking to your doctor.
Many years ago, I coordinated the
national campaign for enactment of
the law making all domestic commer-
cial airline flights smoke-free. That
law has been a huge, popular success
for 20 years. Today, one can hardly
imagine having to inhale the smoke
of fellow passengers on a five-hour,
transcontinental flight. I am confident
that implementation of Michigan's
new law will be met with equal sup-
port and appreciation.
Cliff Douglas is the Director
of the University of Michigan
Tobacco Research Network and an
adjunct lecturer in tobacco policy
at the School of Public Health.

9

0

Last Friday, the state passed a
bill that provides incentives for
older teachers to retire between
July 1 and September 1 of this
year, according to AnnArbor.
com. Eligible, retiring teach-
ers would receive slightly
increased pension plans, and
those who choose to stay will
receive a three-percent pay cut.
The bill's proponents hope the
retirements will make room
for younger, cheaper educators,
saving the public school systems
up to three billion dollars and
alleviating the stress of their
budget shortfalls.
This bill slaps a Band-Aid on
the issue of education funding,
but it won't keep the dam from
bursting. The plan certainly
provides a better solution than
cutting teachers or more pro-
grams, both of which have been
cut nearly to death. While it
is troubling that older, experi-
enced educators will be pushed
out of the education system,
they will at least be replaced

by younger ones. As a result, basic reading level.
students won't have to deal Unfortunately, funding cuts
with larger classrooms and less have become a yearly occur-
individual attention. This is far rence. Many Michigan residents
better than the state's typical and students can't even remem-
response to projected shortfalls ber a time when their education
- giving school districts less wasn't on the chopping block. A
money, forcing them to lay off strong public schooling system
critically needed teachers and cut is the great equalizer by which
wide swaths of programs. a student is given the tools to
Though it is consistently succeed, no matter what class
undervalued in the state budget, they hail from. Just like fire and
lawmakers should remember police protection, education is a
that an educated citizenry is a fundamental right that citizens
society's most important asset. should expect from their gov-
The industries of the future will ernment, not a privilege. Be it
flock to states with well-educat- accomplished with tax increas-
ed citizens, and bringing busi- es or spending cuts in other
nesses to Michigan is the key to areas, the integrity of Michi-
retaining graduates and diver- gan's education system must be
sifying the economy away from preserved.
the declining manufacturing For now, this plan is the best
sector. But right now, that's off the state can do to throw a life
to a bad start, as evidenced by raft to its public schools. But
recent education statistics from without a long-term solution to
Detroit: According to a Detroit Michigan's structural deficit,
Free Press report, just 27 per- this plan will just string the sys-
cent of Detroit Public School tem along until next year's inev-
students scored at or above a itable cuts.

If we find they're not doing what they're supposed
to do, we'll push them out of the way."
- Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar, referring to BP's handling of the
Gulf oil spill, as reported by The New York Times on Sunday.
EDITORIAL BOARD MEMBERS:
Nicholas Clift, Emma Jeszke, Harsha Panduranga, Joe Stapleton

S

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