Thanks Austin for Ban

RECEIVED Mon., May 16, 2005

To the Austin community,
    I am writing in response to Dan Mottola's article "Where There's Smoke ..." [News, April 15]. I am Christine Carlucci, the program coordinator of oriGENal voice, GENaustin’s public awareness campaign that empowers middle school and high school girls with important information about the dangers of tobacco use. Just like several other thousands of Austinites, the girls of oriGENal voice are thankful the smoking ordinance passed since it will be enforced in places they spend time with their families – particularly bowling alleys.
    I heard a “Keep Austin Free” representative on the news accuse those supporting the smoking ban of having nothing at stake, as bar owners do. The American Cancer Society reports that secondhand smoke attributes to 300,000 lower respiratory infections in children each year and cases of asthmatic children due to secondhand smoke leaped from 200,000 to 1 million this year. It doesn’t take a biologist to understand adults are affected in equal measure. In many ways tobacco is directly marketed to girls and women, playing on insecurities associated with fitting in and mythology about smoking and weight-loss. The facts are staggering regarding how many girls will start this year. Today, 457,000 girls under age 18 are likely to become daily smokers – 146,000 under 18 are likely to die prematurely as a result.
    oriGENal voice is dedicated to counteracting these trends, teaching girls to use media to raise awareness about the risks of tobacco use and secondhand smoke among their friends and family. Funded by the Texas Cancer Council, oriGENal voice is a unique group within the GENaustin network, a nonprofit existing in Austin since 1996 focused on building girls’ confidence and critical-thinking skills. The girls of oriGENal voice send a resounding thanks to Austin for taking their health and wellness into account during the recent decision!
Christine Carlucci
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