Should Smoking Be Banned Indoors And Outdoors?
Personal Example of Deleterious Effects of Indoor Smoke
My revulsion about second hand smoke is visceral and personal. My maternal grandmother and my father were chain smokers and my mother, who never smoked a cigarette in her life, was the first to suffer from the harmful effects of their addiction to smoking. Mom developed severe asthma in her thirties and then emphysema. Still, my father's denial that his smoking had anything to do with Mom's lung problems was so strong that as a young teenager, I remember him intentionally puffing smoke directly into her face after she asked him not to smoke in our small apartment.
"Smoking doesn't cause breathing problems, it's all in your head, Peggy," he said, puffing away even more as Mom started gasping for breath. I tried to intercede and beg him to stop, but his first response was to say, "Stay out of this. She's faking an asthma attack. She'll be okay."
But she wasn't okay, and since our phone had been shut off due to non-payment of the bill, I had no way to call for an ambulance. Fortunately, we lived just a few blocks from the hospital and when Mom's choking and gasping got worse, Dad finally carried her out to the car and drove her to the hospital, while I anxiously stayed home with my younger brother. Mom survived that asthma attack, but endured many other attacks and trips to the emergency room while she was the office manager in a law firm, as clients often puffed away in the waiting room. She eventually had to stop working due to her severe sensitivity to second hand smoke, and the deleterious effect it had on her asthma and emphysema. She went on disability in her early 40's and rarely ventured outside because second hand smoke, especially from cigars, would trigger asthma attacks in restaurants, movies and other public places.
At the age of 40, Dad nearly died from his first heart attack, and it was only then, as his own health issues (partially related to smoking) surfaced, that he stopped smoking and he also apologized to my mother about how his smoking had affected her own health. Dad died from a second heart attack on his 55th birthday, although he never resumed smoking after his first heart attack.
Being in a smoke free environment helped protect Mom from further damage to her lungs and she currently lives in a smoke free, assisted living facility.
Delaware Passes The First Clean Air Act In The USA
Flash forward to 2001 when I moved to the state of Delaware. Governor Ruth Ann Minner's administration was trying to pass the Clean Indoor Air Act and in 2002 the act went through making Delaware the first state in the nation to adopt a comprehensive state wide smoking ban.
The current statistics about second hand smoke are staggering. According to the CDC, there are 700 chemicals, including 70 carcinogens in second hand smoke leading to an annual estimated 46,000 deaths from heart disease and an additional 3,400 deaths from lung cancer. Delaware's ground breaking laws have proven that such laws can also be habit breaking. In 2001, before the ban went into effect, 25% of Delaware adults smoked regularly. By 2008, less than 18% routinely smoked, according to statistics gathered by Behavioral Risk Factor Surveys.
Other States Follow Delaware's Lead
Thirty five other states and dozens of cities have enacted laws prohibiting smoking in indoor areas of worksites, restaurants and bars. More recent laws are starting to ban outdoor smoking citing research that second hand smoke does not quickly dissipate outdoors. The new laws ban smoking on beaches, boardwalks and some public parks in Delaware and other states and cities.
Although I am sensitive to the fact that smokers feel their rights are being infringed upon by such laws, I need only think of the dramatic effects that second hand smoke had on my mother's health to know, deep in my heart, that the most important right of all is everyone's right to breathe fresh air.
States That Have Smoking Bans
- List of smoking bans in the United States - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Smoking laws vary wildly throughout the United States. This article shows a comprehensive list of smoking bans in the US.
Breaking News: NYC's New Law
As I write this hub, New York City is starting to implement a new law that went into effect on May 24, 2011. It bans smoking outdoors, at beaches, boardwalks, parks and in pedestrian plazas and shows that such laws are gaining traction in cities across the nation.
Recent Wave of Smoking Bans Around The World
- BBC NEWS | Special Reports | Smoking curbs: The global picture
The BBC News Website traces the recent wave of smoking bans around the world as governments try to stub out the habit.