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Chelsey Matter, West Fargo, Published December 08 2012

Letter: ND voters clear about clearing air

The residents of North Dakota have clearly spoken, and they have chosen to clear the air. Measure 4 passed overwhelmingly, making almost all workplaces smoke free and saving countless lives in the process. Voters recognized that no one should have to put their health at risk in order to earn a paycheck. Measure 4 passed in every county throughout the state, sending a strong message that the protection of the public’s health is a priority.

Thank you to all the North Dakotans who signed the Smoke-Free North Dakota petition to make a public vote possible on this vital issue. Thank you to all of the dedicated volunteers who helped collect those signatures. Smoke-Free North Dakota collected more than 21,000 signatures in five weeks, a true testament to our volunteers’ unwavering dedication and passion for the cause.

You don’t have to look far to find someone who has been directly affected by tobacco. Tobacco use has been ingrained into our culture and sadly continues to take our loved ones from us. We ran into countless people and stories while collecting signatures, and those stories are why it is crucial to continue our work in ending the tobacco epidemic.

More than 50 years of medical science has confirmed that smoking and secondhand smoke have grave health consequences. Tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of death and disability in North Dakota. Comprehensive smoke-free legislation is sweeping the entire world and is critically important for the health of the communities involved. Smoke-free laws positively affect indoor air quality and reduce heart attack hospital admissions and lung disease hospital admissions.

North Dakota now has an opportunity to see these positive health effects. We can all breathe a little easier knowing North Dakota is smoke free.

Matter is chairwoman of Smoke-Free North Dakota.