I served in the military for more than 30 years. I am also a Republican who supports Democratic Rep. Anna Blodgett’s proposed L.D. 1230 to ban smoking in private, veterans clubs.

According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, less than 35 percent of veterans smoke, including those from Iraq and Afghanistan. Each year at taxpayers’ expense, the VA spends more than $5 billion to provide medical care for tobacco-related diseases. Taxpayers, insurance carriers and veterans who are not entitled to VA benefits pick up even more.

One hundred-seventy nations of the World Health Organization have recognized that exposure to tobacco smoke causes death, disease, and disability.

The Maine Workplace Smoking Act of 1985 and Maine Center for Disease Control rules allow a minority of veterans to smoke in private clubs. That exposes the majority of members to the health risks of secondhand smoke, which the VA says kills 50,000 Americans per year.

The U.S. Surgeon General reported that virtually every modern, scientific study has concluded secondhand smoke causes the premature death of hundreds of thousands of nonsmokers worldwide.

Smoke-free buildings are the only remedy. Secondhand smoke cannot be controlled by ventilation, air cleaning or spatial separation of smokers from nonsmokers.

Maine needs to end the discrimination against the majority of veterans to allow them to enter all the private clubs to which they belong without risk to their health and the taxpayers’ pocketbooks.

Let’s all get behind L.D. 1120, proposed by Blodgett to ban smoking in private veterans clubs. Veterans and taxpayers deserve better.

Patrick Eisenhart


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