Second Hand Smoke
By Charlotte Glover
July 14, 2007
It always amazes me the lengths to which smokers will go to defend
their habit. Our recent contributors must be among the lucky
few who do not have lung ailments, emphysema, coronary heart
disease, peptic ulcers, infertility and babies with low birth
weight, not to mention that oh so attractive hacking cough and
endless spitting. I am sure their doctor applauds their cavalier
attitude toward their health, but when it comes to my health,
I am not so appreciative of their habit.
The smoking issue would be non-existant if a little lingering
smoke were the only ill effect. Unfortunately, that is not true
at all for the millions of us who can get ill after exposure
to smoke. I am an non-smoker who has had allergies since childhood
that have development into mild asthma as an adult. Exposure
to smoke can cause me to start coughing, trigger an asthma attack,
inflame my allergies or send me to the hospital depending upon
the situation. I will add that I generally am in robust health,
exercise daily and miss about one day of work a year due to illness.
I am not chronically ill.....except when exposed to smoke.
I am unable, for instance, to attend the Ketchikan Chamber of
Commerce meetings (which are non-smoking) at the VFW because
the lingering smoke in that room has twice sent me to the hospital
when my airways and esophagus swelled. I am still paying off
the $2000 in medical costs my insurance didn't cover from my
last incident. Thanks smokers!
There is no way to avoid second hand smoke in Ketchikan. I encounter
it everyday when taking my walk, treating my six year old son
to a trip to the mall, entering Wal-Mart or running errands downtown
for my job. I frequently have to pass people smoking. My son
constantly asks me why people smoke so much in Ketchikan. He
has already noticed from our travels that smoking is not so prevalent
in other communities. What would your answer be?
Fifteen years ago my husband and I traveled to Europe where I
struggled to breath in cities where smoking is encouraged. I
eventually ended up in a Paris hospital with bronchitus and missed
several days of our vacation. Lisbon wasn't any better for my
lungs. Having also been to Ireland, I applaud their recent decision
to ban smoking in pubs which are often the only local eateries
for familes. There is no excuse for exposing employees, families
and children to secondhand smoke.
No one in my family smokes and yet I am constantly picking up
cigarette butts in front of my workplace, in my driveway and
at the beach so it is clean for my six year old son and his friends.
When he was tiny and likely to put things in his mouth we collected
pounds of smoking debris from the beaches. How can you defend
the amount of litter smokers leave around? Why is that part of
the culture of smoking?
Secondhand smoke is a known cause of cancer in humans. It causes
disease and premature death in children and adults who do not
smoke, including 3,400 lung cancer deaths each year and 46,000
heart disease deaths.
Secondhand smoke is especially harmful to young children. It
is responsible for hundreds of thousands of lower respiratory
tract ailements each year and 430 sudden death syndrome deaths.
Secondhand smoke aslo can cause a buildup of fluid in the middle
ear, resulting in more trips to the doctor, more antibiotics
and more ear tubes. That same smoke aggravates symptoms in hundreds
of thousands of children with asthma each year.
I imagine most of us non-smokers would be more compassionate
if we saw more courtesy from smokers. How about less rubish,
less walking down the street with burning cigarettes that are
not even being smoked, and less smoking in places people eat,
especially children. That adult next to you may have made a "choice"
to smoke, but I guarantee that child did not. Anyone who smokes
near a child with developing lungs for any reason, in any place,
should be deeply ashamed.
Received July 14, 2007 - Published July 14, 2007
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