Letter: Keep kids cigarette free

March 18 marked the annual observance of Kick Butts Day. The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids created this day to empower youth to educate their peers and the community about the dangers of smoking. This is the first year that electronic cigarettes are included in the call to either not start or to quit the addiction to nicotine.

More than 2,800 kids in the U.S. try their first cigarette each day. Fifty-five thousand Iowa kids under the age of 18 and alive today will ultimately die from diseases related to smoking and nicotine addiction. Kids who never smoked a cigarette but use e-cigarettes increased from 79,000 in 2011 to 263,000 in 2013.

Ames has long been a leader when it comes to protecting the health of its citizens. Iowa’s first smoke-free dining ordinance, which the city of Ames passed more than 10 years ago, set the stage for the eventual passage of a statewide smoke-free public place law. Today, clean indoor air is the standard that Iowans support and expect. Allowing the use of electronic nicotine delivery systems indoors erodes this success.

E-cigarettes reinforce nicotine addiction to our children and youth and are becoming more frequent in restaurants, bars, workplaces and even schools. The city of Ames should continue its track record as a leader in protecting our community from the dangers of nicotine. The YSS Board of Directors urges the Ames City Council to join other cities through the country by passing a recently proposed local ordinance prohibiting the use of e-cigarettes where smoking is prohibited. This will protect our clean indoor air and uphold the reputation for public health for which we in Ames are so proud.