To The Editor:

People with disabilities who don’t use canes, wheelchairs, guide dogs, nor wear glasses look “normal” and seem to be healthy. I never thought I would use the word disabled to describe myself, but when exposed to secondhand smoke I am disabled. Ironically, places that allow smoking are equipped for most physical disabilities, but are not equipped to assist a person with a lung disability.

Do you constantly scan the area to detect someone smoking? I have cystic fibrosis, a chronic lung disease that carries with it a median age of 32. My lung function is somewhere around 22 percent. This is why I constantly scan for people who smoke.

Do you know what you inhale from secondhand smoke? Ammonia, butane, cyanide, formaldehyde and lead are chemicals in secondhand smoke. According to the 2006 Surgeon General’s report, secondhand smoke has over 7,000 (chemicals), with 250 known to be toxic and more than 50 that can cause cancer. Secondhand smoke not only carries deadly chemicals, but it also carries viruses, such as the common cold and the flu. Smoke streams are highways for the spread of infection and disease.

According to the Mayo Clinic, “The dangerous particles in secondhand smoke can linger in the air for hours or even longer. It isn’t just the smoke that’s a concern, though. The residue that clings to a smoker’s hair and clothing as well as cushions, carpeting and other goods also can pose risks, especially for children.”

I have no problem with the person who smokes, most would choose not to smoke if they could overcome the addiction. I care deeply about the health and well-being of all people. I would have no problem with smoking in public places if the person smoking could inhale and never exhale. This is not possible and inevitably the secondhand smoke ends up lingering in our air space then landing on surfaces such as handrails and park benches.

“Oxygen is the fuel for life.” All people who dine, shop and live in Washington deserve smoke-free environments. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to know we could all breathe easy in Washington, Mo.?