The Student News Site of Middle College High School @ Santa Ana College

The Spellbinder

The Student News Site of Middle College High School @ Santa Ana College

The Spellbinder

The Student News Site of Middle College High School @ Santa Ana College

The Spellbinder

Second-hand smoke in Santa Ana

Citlali Zavala, Yamileth Sarabio, Johana Carmona (made with Canva)
On Track for a Smoke-free Santa Ana, a club working towards no second-hand smoke in public place, aims to work for better air quality.

It follows you everywhere, you do not realize it, and you can never get away from it. Second hand smoke has killed thousands of non-smokers’ lives yearly. It has serious side effects when inhaled, even for a few seconds and can linger on surfaces long after the smoke is gone. Second hand smoke has become the leading cause of deaths, with a record of 2,500,000 deaths recorded since 1964. Smokers expose non-smokers to the harmful release of chemicals from burnt tobacco products through inhalation.

Youth Leadership Club (YLC) formed by Claire Braeburn alongside Alejandra Cook, is dedicated to passing policies in various cities within California to become smoke-free. Currently, YLC is working towards passing a smoke-free city policy in Santa Ana, known as On Track for a Tobacco Free Orange County. The goal is to achieve a greater, cleaner, and fresher environment within Santa Ana that everyone can enjoy.

There are huge consequences that come from allowing smokers in public areas, which are being addressed by YLC and its dedicated members. Second hand smoke has been an ongoing issue that has led to the dangerous decline in health, risking the lives of the community. The harmful effects of second hand smoke are respiratory issues, heart disease, asthma, and cancer, which in some cases can be fatal.

Santa Ana High School sophomore, Anthony Santiago, a member of YLC describes the outcomes the club wants to accomplish. He has participated in collecting petitions in Buena Park, which reinforced policies preventing smoking in public event areas, places of employment, and recreation areas.

“The Youth Leadership Club is an organization created by a nonprofit to help build a healthier and safer Santa Ana by reducing the use of tobacco products,” Santiago said.

Second hand smoke has affected the daily lives of citizens in Santa Ana. The easy accessibility to obtain tobacco products has affected the lives of individuals, especially younger generations who are easily influenced. It has become a common occurrence to see a person smoking any type of tobacco product around a street corner.

The addition of smoke-free policies in Santa Ana is a life changing opportunity, that will create a safer environment by discouraging smoking, and reducing the amount of tobacco-related waste in public areas.

“I welcome the community to get involved in becoming smoke free, by filling out petitions that are passed out during community events and getting informed of the consequences of second hand smoke,” said Santigo.

Santiago has gotten the opportunity to speak to city council members, two in particular, and got the chance to speak out about the benefits of a smoke free policy in Santa Ana. He was able to express himself and the reasons behind his involvement as to why he’s part of YLC.

“I have personally seen the negative effects that tobacco and second hand smoke has had on family members. For example, my cousin has repeatedly dealt with asthma because a neighbor who has constantly smoked around her, caused her asthma to flare up affecting her health and the health of surrounding family members,” said Santigo.

Director of YLC, Claire Braeburn, is an inspiring figure with great goals and dedication to keeping her community safe. She has inspired the community, including the younger and older generation, to take part in keeping the community out of harm’s way.

“Second hand smoke is a toxic air contaminant and the sad thing is that there is no safe level of second hand smoke and unfortunately there is too much exposure in public and actually even in people’s homes, especially in multi-unit housing or apartments,” said Braeburn.

The Youth Leadership club is also known as “On Track for a Tobacco Free Orange County,” because being tobacco free would lead to a smoke free city which is the end goal. Currently they are trying to pass a law in Santa Ana banning the use of tobacco and other substances alike to create a smoke free city. This is especially important, as many people have to constantly deal with the inhalation of smoke particles in public areas, as well as multi-unit housing. Through air circulation, smoke particles travel through air vents lingering in apartment walls, targeting vulnerable residents.

“The benefits include reducing the amount of toxic second hand smoke that is in the community that all of us have to smell, so thereby it makes it a much healthier community. It can also denormalise smoking, so it sets a really healthy example for all people in the community, but particularly young people and people who have immune systems that are more compromised,” said Braeburn.

Second hand smoke causes unnecessary deaths of 41,000 adults every year, and innocent lives are suffering the consequences of a smoker’s addiction.

“America On Track started Youth Leadership Club for public health policy advocacy to really harness the power and the creativity of young people…A lot of people want to make change, but not a lot of people know how to make that change. That’s really the role that American on Track wants to play with young people,” said Braeburn.

A young group of individuals were given a fully funded opportunity to travel to Sacramento, which allowed them to meet with the state governor to oppose the use of tobacco products. This was a learning experience, which allowed the club members to apply their newly learned knowledge.

Adam Bietak, a member of YLC, was part of the participating members, who were given the opportunity to travel to Sacramento.

“Recently, we flew out to Sacramento, it was fully funded by America On Track, and I was able to talk to legislators and representatives of California about smoke free policies and how that affects our community, it was such an eye opening experience,” said Bietak.

Bietak has been able to understand the benefits of a smoke free city policy by living in a poor populated area, which allowed the use of tobacco products, to then moving to Irvine, which has recently gone smoke free.

“I can see the transformation of being in a smoke free city like having cleaner air and feeling safer when walking outside with my younger siblings,” said Bietak.

The Youth Leadership Club is made to help Santa Ana become smoke free. No matter what type of product you are choosing to smoke with, there are severe consequences. It not only affects the person smoking, but also others around them who can do nothing besides breathe it in. Teens in the club advocate for their city to get rid of second hand smoke because many of them have also experienced living in a city which has smoke in every corner.

Santa Ana High School sophomore, Gustavo Zacapala, a local resident of the community, is not part of YLC but has expressed his concern about the negative impact of the use of tobacco products in his community. He believes that the residents living within his community can make a difference, no matter how small. Zacapala believes we should first learn about why people smoke, as understanding this can help us know how to assist them and achieve a smoke free city.

“One thing people can do to contribute to a smoke free city is to figure out why the people that smoke started and then work from there,” said Zacapla.

Women who are pregnant and are surrounded by smoke daily can give birth to a baby with a lower birth weight and increase the chances of health complications. As those babies grow up, one health complication that can appear at any moment is asthma. It can be frequent and get severe, putting them in great danger. YLC is working towards making their environment better for their community members so no one has to deal with any short or long term effects.

Zacapala knows the dangers that come with second hand smoke. As he walks through the streets, he smells smoke daily and has personally experienced trouble breathing because of the smoke. There is nothing he can do, besides trying to avoid it by crossing the street when he notices someone smoking.

“The smell of smoke gets to me and it makes it hard to breathe. Walking down the streets, I smell smoke a lot as there are many people smoking and all I can do is cross to the other side to avoid them,” said Zacapala.

Similarly, many other residents all around Santa Ana have been dealing with this ongoing problem in other different ways.

Sophomore David Velez, a local Santa Ana resident is not part of YLC but feels strongly about second hand smoke as he shares his experiences. He has expressed that living in a duplex, his family deals with the second hand smoke from the tenant upstairs. Being exposed to the smoke brings various effects. At first, they may seem small, but over time, they affect everyone more and more. Velez has begun feeling immediate effects from his exposure to second-hand smoke.

“Yes, like your head hurts, you start to feel dizzy and all that,” said Velez.

As of now, Velez has stated that he is not feeling any long-term effects but worries about what may come in the future. Smelling smoke every day affects many people, even if they don’t smoke. Although you may not be a smoker, you can suffer the consequences because of others around you who do smoke.

All around us, we can see the effects that many who have never smoked in their lives are dealing with. From young children to elderly people, everyone is exposed to various effects. These effects can range from asthma to fatal conditions, which is why it is important that we help our city. Young children are not able to speak up, but YLC is making an attempt to be that voice for them.

Velez shares that outside his home, he has been dealing with second hand smoke in public areas, specifically in stores. He feels it is disrespectful to call out the smokers, so he mentions trying to avoid the area instead.

“I hate the smell of smoking, so sometimes there’s like people smoking in stores and all that, and I just leave,” said Velez.

Many people who deal with this problem daily are too afraid to speak up. This is another reason YLC is fighting to make our environment cleaner. They are working to help everyone, including those who are afraid to speak up or cannot voice their opinions.

Chemistry teacher Micah You, has expressed worry about exposing his daughters to second hand smoke. Growing up he dealt with second hand smoke and now he hopes to protect his daughters due to past experiences.

“Except I will say, second hand smoke, not from cigarettes, but from marijuana…I just don’t like the smell. Sometimes you’ll like, go to the park, and even though it’s a big wide open area, you can just smell the weed smell, like, really strong, and it, it’s kind of nasty, and then if I have my kids with me, it’s not something I want to expose them to” said You.

Mr. You has seen his friend be surrounded by his father smoking before eventually developing bad asthma. This has affected his life now as he made it his top priority to protect his daughters from developing any major health issues.

At times, even outside our own homes we are not safe from the exposure, just as Mr. You and his daughters were not, in front of their own home.

“I just remember…there was a car in front of my house. And the weed smell was intense coming from there. And I know they were just, like, hotboxing…And, uh, they were just, like, random car, I don’t know, not a neighbor, not, not anyone. And I just had to go up to them and ask them to move because I just said, hey, I got a kid in here, right? And they were polite, they moved, but I was just like damn, that’s, that’s pretty bad, you know?” You said.

It is important we all speak up to protect ourselves from health problems. Second hand smoke is a cause of those issues, from cigarettes to marijuana, as they pose serious health risks. Mr. You’s experiences show how common and harmful this issue is.

Groups like YLC are important because they work to make our environment cleaner and help people speak up about their concerns. By supporting these efforts, we can create healthier communities where everyone, including those who are afraid to speak up, can live safely without worrying about second hand smoke.

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About the Contributors
Johana Carmona
Johana Carmona, Staff Writer
I love reading romance books and doing my makeup. I like boba, canes, and wingstop. I like listening to all music genres.
Yamileth Sarabio
Yamileth Sarabio, Staff Writer
I love getting song recommendations. I love reading, but only if it’s something I am interested in. I like to watch shows while I am doing homework.