The Kids Get It: Secondhand Smoke Kills

April 24, 2012

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Kids say the darndest things — and some of the smartest, too.

When Linda Kelsch’s third grade students at Linton Elementary School in Linton, North Dakota, were asked to express their opinions about a community issue, they chose to write about a proposal before the City Council to require smoke-free public places and work places.

The result was a trove of well-informed letters about the benefits of going smoke-free, printed in the Emmons County Record.

Some samples:

From Daniel Schumacher:  “I think people shouldn’t smoke.  It hurts other people’s lungs when they breathe it in. It would keep some of our air clean if they stopped. People wouldn’t get that sick from it if they stopped smoking now. Our town would be a better place!”

And from Ashlyn King: “I want people to stop smoking.  It is not good for the community. Smoke stays in the air.  It can give you cancer. It’s also bad for the lungs. You can live a better life without a cigarette.”

Linton voters will cast ballots on June 12 to advise the City Council on whether to pass a smoke-free ordinance.

Meanwhile in Indianapolis, a council member who sponsored the city’s new smoke-free law, which includes restaurants and bars, also met youthful enthusiasm for protecting everyone from secondhand smoke.

Arriving home after a long night of meetings, John Barth was greeted by his excited kids, who’d heard that the mayor had at last signed the smoke-free ordinance.   Eight-year-old Miles put up celebratory posters, while 9-year-old Nora baked congratulatory muffins, Barth told Indianapolis Star columnist Matthew Tully

“Of all the issues we’ve worked on, this is the thing that they’ve cared about the most,” Barth says. “They’ve grown up in an environment and in a time when smoking is just not OK.”
Smoking is not OK, and secondhand smoke causes cancer, heart disease and other serious illnesses.  Elected officials everywhere should listen to the kids, learn from them, and act.

Reproduction of Emmons County Record  artcile showing samples of writing assignments from Linton Elementary School third graders