General Assembly puts tobacco industry first

General Assembly puts tobacco industry first
I am disappointed by the lack of leadership in our state government. The Ohio General Assembly handed the big tobacco industry a massive victory last week! SB 128 removes the authority of our health boards to implement regulations requiring smoke-free air in our community's public spaces.
It is a well known fact that second-hand smoke exposure causes heart disease and lung cancer, and our small children are especially susceptible to asthma and other respiratory illness when exposed to someone's cigarette smoke in buildings. Our elected officials know that this legislation is supported by the big tobacco industry, yet they put the interests of the tobacco purveyors ahead of the interests of our children and public health.
SB 128 argues that decisions made by local boards of health are too controversial and should be made by elected officials who are directly accountable to voters.
This is untrue.
Tobacco use and exposure is indeed a public health issue, one that costs the state of Ohio millions of dollars a year to treat. Second, elected officials, directly accountable to voters, appoint members of boards of health. Third, the boards of health currently participate in health district advisory councils, comprised of health experts and elected officials. It is safe to argue that elected officials are involved in the work of local health boards and can influence public health policy.
SB 128 is a tool used by the big tobacco industry to undermine the tobacco control efforts in Ohio attempting to reduce our children's exposure to second-hand smoke. The work accomplished last week by the General Assembly ties the hands of our health experts to protecting us. Please contact your own elected representatives. This legislation cripples the work of local boards of health whose duty is to protect the public from harmful health effects, like anthrax, E Coli, botulism, and second-hand smoke.
X The writer is president of the Mahoning/Northern Colum biana Board of Directors of the American Heart Association
Reopen downtown and restore beautiful buildings
I am a former citizen of Youngstown. Although I now live in Tucson, Ariz., several members of my family still live in Youngstown.
My family and I had the pleasure of visiting Youngstown on vacation this past summer. I had not visited there for the past 15 years.
During our visit, we spent many hours in Mill Creek Park. I had forgotten how beautiful it is there, and was surprised at all of the improvements that have been made there. I felt sad at the loss of Idora Park, since I had spent so much time there in my youth. I also felt very sad about the condition of the whole city of Youngstown. It resembled a war ravaged city. It appeared to be a dying city.
I have many fond memories of my youth there. Since my home was located close to downtown, I used to walk there with family members and friends. We would go to Strouss-Hirshberg for the wonderful chocolate malts. I remember when they first installed the escalator up to the mezzanine.
We would hang out at Marshall's Drug Store, and of course during the holidays all of the store windows were decorated and the beautiful tree to admire on the square. I remember it all. Oh what a wonderful period of time that was.
However, during my visit, I toured downtown Youngstown and was appalled at its present condition. Most of the stores were closed, and it resembled a ghetto area with grafitti on the buildings and trash on the streets. I felt sad.
I think it would be a great idea to reopen the street as it once was and perhaps do a restoration on some of those old beautiful buildings with the fabulous architecture. Possibly your city planners could visit some other cities that have had a face lift and develop plans on ideas from there. It could help your economy and your slumping employment problems. It would also help develop a sense of pride for your local citizens.