“Kids Suffer As Fewer Smoke,” was the headline from an October 28 article in the San Francisco Bay Times, a ludicrous statement, as children suffer greatly from second hand smoke. Any decline in smoking is a good thing. Since 1998, 50 cents from every package of cigarettes sold in California has gone to the First 5 program, which funds children’s medical, dental, mental health, literacy, and special needs programs. The article argued that, as fewer Californians smoke, revenues for the First 5 program have declined. Last year, cigarette sales dropped 8.1%, a $42.5 million loss to The First 5 program.
Cigarette smoking has declined mostly because of increased taxes and effective advertising against the tobacco companies. This is good for everyone, particularly children, who have no control over the amount of secondhand smoke they inhale. Cigarette smoking is related to birth defects and low birth weight, both of which can impair cognitive ability and lead to learning disabilities that hamper academic achievement. They are linked to asthma and other life threatening respiratory conditions that cause children to miss school and diminish their quality of life.
Children's health and education should be funded abundantly, securely and consistently by society and not be dependent on the addictions of grownups.