Letter to the Editor

The American Cancer Society’s Great American Smokeout is a day for people to create a plan to quit tobacco. Cigarette smoking is the leading cause of cancer death in the United States, accounting for about 30% of all cancer deaths. In the state of California 10.3% of Latinos use tobacco, approximately 1 million Latino smokers. Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths among Hispanics and accounts for 17% of all cancer diagnoses among Hispanics.

Everyone has an important role to play in that plan, especially our lawmakers. By making all outdoor spaces in Indio smoke-free, our leaders can help make the difficult—but lifesaving—battle to quit tobacco a little easier for residents of Imperial. 

Comprehensive smoke-free laws that cover all outdoor spaces not only help people who smoke to quit but they also protect community members from the deadly toxins found in secondhand smoke, which are responsible for the deaths of approximately 42,000 nonsmokers each year. 

Approximately 90% of people who smoke start by age 18 and 99% start by age 26. These adolescents and young adults become regular, not just occasional, tobacco users. Among those 13.5% of Latino high school students in California use tobacco.

Comprehensive smoke-free outdoor laws that include e-cigarettes also help to denormalize tobacco product use among our youth, making them less likely to pick up a tobacco product and a lifelong addiction.

We don’t have to accept this horrible statistic; we know what we need to do to protect our communities from the deadly impact of tobacco use —so let’s do it. This Great American Smokeout, join me in urging our lawmakers to save lives in Imperial by passing a comprehensive smoke-free outdoor laws.


Anita Johnson 

Volunteer, American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN)

Imperial, California

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