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Health, Litter Are Concerns

July 3, 2011
The Intelligencer / Wheeling News-Register

Editor, News-Register:

Recently, the Wheeling-Ohio Board of Health held a meeting to discuss changes to the county's smoking ban. As expected, some "bar or tavern" owners appear to voice their concerns. Their comments seem to be mainly self serving, with no mention of health concerns for anyone.

Several questions come to mind. Have any of those wishing to do away with the smoking ban watched a friend or family member struggle and finally die from throat cancer? Have they seen the ravages of the mouth and jaw caused by the use of chewing tobacco?

What responsibility do smokers assume toward the littering of our streets, when a cigarette, still burning, is casually tossed onto walks and streets without a backward glance to determine if the butt is still burning? At times this is done even though there are containers provided to discard butts. In addition, tossing a butt, whether burning or not, onto city streets is littering, no question about it. To verify this, ask a police person. They will tell you it is littering.

Has anyone recently visited the Ohio County Court house? Did you have to run the gantlet of a wall of smoke emanating from the cigarettes of some employees on their breaks? Do smokers carry with them the means to properly dispose of their butts? Is it their "God-given right" to toss their butts anywhere they choose? Have the smokers noticed that our streets and public entrances are littered with discarded butts, especially at intersections where traffic lights are installed? This is not the pretty picture that our city wants to convey around our friendly city, and where do these butts go? A good guess is into our creeks and rivers. Check out the entrance to the Wheeling police offices. Are there discarded butts littering their entrances?

Is there any compassion for the smokers or business owners? What about empathy? You bet. The Health Department possesses both of these thoughts as they ponder ways to consider and protect the public from carcinogens found in the burning cigarettes and the smoke generating from that item. How many actions should be permitted if knowing said actions were cancer causing? Should we permit toxic chemicals to be dumped into our waterways? After all, jobs are provided from companies who would do that if it were permitted.

To free oneself from the substance that is both harmful and expensive, is very difficult and the Ohio County Health Department is trying to help people help themselves.

Kudos to the Health Department.

P.S. - To the citizen volunteers that gave their precious free time to clean up central Wheeling, thank you. This is a wonderful example for the rest of the city to follow. Are we up to it? It can be done.

B.L. Whyte


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