Monday, September 21, 2009

Excuse me, but you are killing me

There are 2 dirty words I'd like to talk about today.

Secondhand smoke.

I have had this subject on my mind for a while now, but have refrained from writing anything for fear of sounding like a complete jerk. But I just found
this new article that shows that the American Heart Association is on my side in this argument, so I will proceed.

1. I was lounging at the pool one day when I overheard (eavesdropped?) a conversation between an older man and a woman about my age (I feel weird calling myself a "woman" - sounds too old. Let's just say girl.) So this man and girl strike up a conversation and the man mentions that he smokes. The girl goes on to tell him that he should definitely quit - she did, and it was hard, but worth it. Then she climbs up on her soapbox and starts ranting and raving about how nonsmokers have no
RIGHT to complain about people smoking because they just don't know how hard it is to quit.


I will concede that one who has never smoked does not know what it is like to try to quit. Also, I do not question whatsoever how hard it is to quit. BUT, do not tell me I don't have a right to complain about people smoking around me. Regardless of whether or not it's a hard habit to kick, it does affect other people. It makes my apartment stink when my neighbors smoke. It is bad for my lungs. It is filthy to have cigarette butts on the sidewalks around my house. It makes my food taste funny in restaurants. So yeah, I think I will go right along complaining. Because I'm not ok with other people's bad habits intruding my life.

2. Shortly after the pool incident, I saw a woman smoking in her car. With the windows rolled up. AND A BABY IN THE BACKSEAT. I'm sure this happens all the time, but it really makes my blood boil to see it. I feel so sorry for those tiny babies and their tiny lungs.

3. Let's talk about this article I mentioned earlier. Basically, it reiterates what has been said before, but with new data. There is no safe level of exposure to cigarette smoke. Even a few puffs of a cigarette, OR breathing someone else's secondhand smoke increases the risk of death from cardiovascular disease.
"Those exposed to air pollution* and secondhand smoke had a 20 percent to 30 percent higher risk of death from cardiovascular disease compared to those without exposure."
4. Besides the increase in risk of death from cardiovascular disease, secondhand smoke causes lung cancer, lung infections, asthma attacks, reduced lung function, and inner ear infections. Plus, it may be linked to breast cancer and puts babies at an increased risk for SIDS. This is all secondhand smoke we're talking about here. People who don't smoke are dying of cigarette smoke related causes! That is unacceptable!

So, what is to be done about this? Easy - smoking bans. Strict ones. Thank goodness, North Carolina just passed a bill to ban smoking in bars, restaurants, and government buildings. But it still doesn't include workplaces (or my neighbors' apartments, dangit). Without even looking for it, I actually just ran across an article in USA Today this morning about smoking bans. It says that 2 separate studies show that heart attack rates fall 17% within a year after smoking bans take effect. To put that into perspective,
"Given that there are about 920,000 heart attacks every year, the studies suggests that public smoking bans could prevent more than 150,000 of these, according to the Cardiology paper."
There's also this article on CNN, which reports the same new statistics, but also tells that secondhand smoke can affect your heart in as little as 20 minutes!

Sadly, smoking bans aren't going to help those children (or adults) who live with smokers. To give those nonsmokers a fair chance at health, smokers are going to have to be dramatically more responsible when it comes to where and when they smoke.

I don't mean to sound unsympathetic or judgmental. It is every individual's own prerogative to choose to use substances that are known carcinogens and have a great chance of leading to their untimely and completely preventable death. But it is not acceptable for people to use those substances in a way that contributes to the preventable death of innocent associates.

The end.

(Whew, that felt good.)

*While the issue of air pollution contributing to our possible death is equally disturbing, I am choosing to ignore it right now so I can more fully exert my wrath on the issue of secondhand smoke.


  1. Yes. I agree. It is awful to have neighbors who smoke and fill your home with the stuff. That's why we moved. Don't appartment complexes usually have bans on that anyway? We were in condos, so there was no way to complain, but appartments?!?

  2. Amen! I totally agree with you. I can't stand being around smokers... especially now that I am pregnant. I don't want to be breathing that crap in, and I especially don't want my baby with developing lungs exposed to it.

    As for bans on smoking in apartment complexes... some do, some don't... Kyle and I lived in a complex that had a ban on smoking, but our neighbors below us would still smoke in their bathroom, which would then travel up to our bathroom and make our place stink...

    I'm sure it's a super difficult addiction to quit, but really... why do people start smoking in the first place? So disgusting.

  3. Jenn, I pretty much want to print your post and hand it to my neighbors! I have to keep a window open while I'm away to make sure that if they smoke, at least my place will be ventilated. If I don't, when I come in I get hit with the smell. Ugh... I don't how I'll surive once it gets cold! It drives me nuts... and I couldn't agree with you more.
    I hate to sound like a jerk, but really, people that smoke piss me off.
    By the way, the other day I saw a worker from the Huntsman Cancer Institute smoking. Can you say, stupidity at its core?

  4. 1) I am shocked that NC passed a smoking ban, since it's in tobacco country.

    2)Have you seen that commercial for the crawling baby dolls and second hand smoke? It makes a good point about secondhand smoke and babies not being able to escape the effects.

    3)The worst is when your neighbors smoke and it affects your living space.

  5. Totally awesome Jenn! When I moved here to Indiana, I couldn't believe how many people smoked on campus....which is supposed to be smoke free. It doesn't help to make buildings smoke free when 25 people stand outside the front doors and smoke. You have to wade through a thick cloud of it just to get into the building, and then the smoke follows you in. Aaaarrrggg.