Letter writer’s observed firsthand cost of smoking to the economy

To the editor:

My letter is in response to a statement made by Sixth District Council Chairman Steve Stenger, D-south county, in the Feb. 3 article headlined “Council chair looks to remove smoking-ban exemptions.”

The article stated Stenger stressed … that while the goal of the smoking ban is to “expose as little of our public to secondhand smoke as possible,” officials must still keep the local economy in mind as they consider strengthening the law.

“Everything has to be on the table in order to be fair to everybody,” he was quoted as saying. But everything should have been — was — “on the table in order to be fair to everybody” when roughly 65 percent of county voters approved the smoking ban in November 2009.

Stenger’s belief that officials must keep the local economy in mind as they consider strengthening the law sounds like political waffling to me or else he could not have seriously thought this through.

Does Stenger consider the “economy” in light of the cost and devastation cigarette smoking adds as lung cancer and the many other serious diseases associated with this horrible destructive habit? Because these toxic mini-bombs prevailing over our troubled health care economic system add to the cost of our economy.

I carry and distribute a tract on how to get to heaven — enclosed is a little prayer to Jesus by my husband and a picture of our daughter. I try especially to give it to smokers standing outside their workplaces, invariably unhealthy looking people, spending at one pack a day $1,600 a year — that’s $16,000 in 10 years — of their hard-earned money on cigarettes.

My heart goes out to them that our society even allows such a poison to be legal and available for them to become addicted.

Three-and-a-half years ago my 39-year-old daughter with 4- and 6-year-old little boys died a horrible death with lung cancer. Five months ago my dear husband of 48-and-a-half years died a horrible death with lung cancer. They lay side by side at Shepherd Hill’s Cemetery.

Rest assured, in my 18 years of being in the cancer world with my beloved ones, I have observed the cost to the economy, both publicly and privately.

Pat Smith