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Nancy Otto, Moorhead, Published November 23 2012

Letter: Minnesota is a healthier state

As a Moorhead resident of more than 40 years, I have witnessed many social changes in our region. For the past five years, every bar, restaurant and public workplace across the state of Minnesota offers smoke-free service. When we take our families and friends out to a bar or restaurant, we have come to expect clean air without the danger of secondhand smoke.

The Freedom to Breathe Act – our statewide smoke-free law – went into effect on Oct. 1, 2007, and paved the way for healthier working environments for hospitality workers and significant reductions in secondhand smoke exposure.

My health care background makes me acutely aware of the health benefits from evading secondhand smoke. Study after study released by the United States surgeon general warns us that there is no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke – its deadly mixture of nicotine and chemicals significantly increases the risk of heart attack, stroke and cancer.

Celebrating five years of the smoke-free law this October means our communities are healthier. Moorhead, Fargo and West Fargo were ahead of the curve putting in place a smoke-free ordinance more than two years before the Minnesota statewide law was implemented. This helped pave the way for our statewide statute in Minnesota. North Dakota voters passed a statewide ban, to their credit.

Thank you to the local public health champions, past and present, who continue to fight for reduced tobacco use in our community and clean air in public spaces.

Otto is a member of the Moorhead City Council.