While on my run along the beach today I was forced to smell nine cigarettes. This is not uncommon whatsoever and today I decided to count how many times it happens on a typical run. NINE TIMES. And many of these nine smoke-filled inhalations were multiple, depending on where the smokers were, and even though I held my breath as I ran past.
A recent CBS News article “Outdoor smoking bans double in U.S. past five years” debated the effects of outdoor smoking and discussed the feelings of smokers. I can empathize with smokers. I have close family and friends who smoke. It is an addicting habit that most will never be able to quit. I realize that smokers have been pushed out of offices, restaurants, and bars but I do get a bit tired of hearing “what about us?”
What about me? I have avoided smoking since I was very young. I never liked it. And I especially haven’t liked attending the five funerals that have happened in my family because of emphysema, lung cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, respiratory failure, and pulmonary fibrosis. I made the choice to not smoke and to live a healthier life. Why should I have to be exposed?
In the article, one interviewee in a park stated, “Smoke rises. I don’t see a reason why it should bother other people out here.” Most smokers don’t realize where their smoke goes. Many don’t realize that even if your window is down or you’re blowing your smoke into the sky, that it is still very much in the vicinity of those around you.
I discovered a couple interesting items in the CBS article. First, “health officials have clearly established that even a brief exposure indoors to cigarette smoke can cause blood to become sticky and more prone to clotting.” Additionally, some studies have found outdoor smoking levels that “rival what people may breathe indoors, depending on which way the wind is blowing or whether there’s an overhang or sheltered area that can trap smoke. One study detected significant fumes as far as 44 feet away from a smoker.”
Where can I find a bit of fresh air these days? Evidently, 44 feet away from smokers, and not while running along the beach in California.
Jennifer A. Fifield
Image: Microsoft Free Clip Art