>More than 50 local businesses sported colorful balloons today ... celebrating World No Tobacco Day. Wendy Swain, director of the County Health Department and, hiding behind a balloon, Diane Koops were caught delivering a cluster of balloons and a plant to Nature's Bounty on Court Street.
First held in 1988, and observed annually on May 31, World No Tobacco Day is the only global event established to call worldwide attention to the impact of tobacco use on public health and reduce individual tobacco-independence.
   This year's theme of "Second-hand smoke kills. Let's clear the air." focuses on the message that second-hand smoke is a real and significant threat to public health. Supported by two decades of evidence, the scientific community now agrees that there is no safe level of exposure to second-hand smoke.
   Second-hand smoking has been causally associated with a range of life-threatening health effects, including lung cancer and heart disease. For children, the situation is particularly disturbing, as involuntary exposure to tobacco smoke has been identified as a cause of respiratory disease, middle ear disease, asthma attacks, and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
   Tobacco smoke is also an important source of indoor air pollution, posing a threat in the workplace. Toxins and carcinogens spread quickly throughout offices, hotels, restaurants and other indoor places of work contributing to a noxious environment, and causing eye irritation, sore throat, cough, and headache. Most workers are not in a position to change their work environment or leave their jobs to protect their health. Therefore, employees find themselves obliged to spend the majority of their waking hours in a health-threatening situation.
   What can be done about second-hand smoke? The best place to begin is right at home. Make your home smoke-free. Let your loved ones and visitors know that you care about their health and about your own. Support local smoke-free businesses and restaurants and encourage establishments that are not yet smoke-free to adopt a smoke-free policy. Advocate for smoke-free workplaces.
   If your own workplace is not yet smoke-free, contact employee groups, management, building owners, etc. and let them know how smoking restrictions at the workplace can benefit everyone. There are many sound reasons for protecting employees' health and creating workplaces free from second-hand smoke. For example, smoke-free workplaces have healthier employees, higher morale and productivity and less absenteeism, which results in higher profits.
   Each year, approximately 800 Oregonians die from second-hand smoke. The smoke from the tip of a cigarette has 20 times the carcinogens as the smoke inhaled by a smoker. Second-hand smoke is a leading cause of preventable death in the United States. The World No Tobacco Day theme is a means to mobilize taking real actions to clear the air. In a number of countries, some of the most effective and sustainable clean indoor air regulations have taken place at the local level.
   The Coalition for World No Tobacco Day was formed in the United States to raise awareness of World No Tobacco Day in the Americas by calling attention to the human and economic tolls of the worldwide tobacco epidemic and improve public health by encouraging people not to use tobacco and assisting users to quit.
   For more information about how to quit using tobacco or about how to make your workplace tobacco-free, contact the Crook County Tobacco Free Coalition at 416-2136 or call the Oregon Quitline toll free at 877-270-7867.
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