Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Well, there goes my goal of living to 200

Third-hand smoke can be harmful, research says

Toxic particles in cigarette smoke can remain on nearby surfaces, as well as the hair and clothing of the smoker, long after the cigarette has been put out, and small children are susceptible because they are likely to breathe in close proximity, or even lick and suck them.

Other studies have linked this exposure to learning problems in children.

Great, just great!

I figured it was bad enough that I lived among a pretty much steady stream of secondhand smoke well into my twenties. I knew before my teen years that a baby exposed to smoking in the first six months irrevocably loses measurable respiratory ability and athletic potential. I knew that babies born to smoking mothers tended to have low birth weight, even if I was actually the heaviest child among my siblings (I did have jaundice, though). As mentioned above, it's also been linked to mental difficulties in children, which will lead every friend of mine to utter in unison, "That explains a lot."

I never picked up the habit, but probably no one I ever sat next to at school ever knew it. Anyone who ever heard me wheeze while running or heard me cough constantly at an early age probably knew it too. That's what happens when you grow up in a socially active environment where nearly everyone smoked in an enclosed space. To this day, I do everything I can in my daily life to avoid secondhand smoke at all costs. Cancer runs in my family, as does stroke, heart attack and psoriasis. I'm taking every measure in my life to make sure stress kills me first.

The news that even smoke-tinged articles present a danger beyond their fragrant repulsiveness is disheartening. And not just because it gives me a 53rd reason to worry about my long-term health. Mostly, it's because of this simple, aggravating fact:

There are still hordes of smokers who somehow think secondhand smoke is harmless. Seriously. As if the same poison they're inhaling loses its chemical properties when it burns off the other end of the cigarette! As if smokers themselves don't crack the windows of their cars to let out all of that harmless smoke. When people like this have children, they're the most likely to exercise little caution when smoking around them.

How do you convince negligent parents that third-hand smoke is a danger when they aren't even sold on secondhand smoke?

This isn't a jab at my parents. After all, I was born at the peak of disco; some of my friends born around that time got acid in the womb, and I'm not talking about folic. And once my parents realized how much it bothered me, they took measures to curb my exposure (and so did I). And only in the past 25 years or so have the dangers of secondhand smoke really burned into the public consciousness.

But this is 2009, and there is no longer any excuse not to understand the dangers of smoking on others. When the affected parties cannot choose to get away from the exposure, such as young children, those dangers are especially relevant.

Oh, and it stinks, too.

1 comment:

rhonda said...

ya weren't complaining when you were in my car ;)

not to make light, though. i can't believe i smoked so much for so long. i've been smoke-free for almost two years now and it depresses me that i can still feel the effects sometimes. yuck.