BY: ANGELA JONES
No one is going to care about your health as much as you should. Although you may have family members and friends who love you and want you to be healthy, your health is ultimately your responsibility. While they may be able to assist you, your good health is not the responsibility of the government or your doctor. In my opinion, there is no greater risk to the health of everyone in this country than exposure to secondhand smoke.
Currently, there is a need for legislation to assist with improving the health of everyone in this country. There should be a federal ban on smoking indoors in multi-unit dwellings and homes where nonsmokers reside. According to the CDC there is also more that can be done by state and local governments to protect citizens from secondhand smoke. CDC.gov states, “Although the number of 100% smokefree air laws has increased among states over time, there are still opportunities for greater protection from secondhand smoke. People can make their homes and vehicles smokefree, and states can work toward making all public places and workplaces smokefree.
Twenty-two states, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, and Palau do not yet have in place comprehensive smokefree indoor air laws covering all bars, restaurants, and worksites.” Children and adults are suffering from secondhand smoke related illnesses and we are all paying for it in the form of higher taxes to cover the financial repercussions of not having the protection of “zero tolerance” indoor smoking laws. CDC.gov also states, “According to the US Surgeon General, no amount of exposure to secondhand smoke is safe. Millions of nonsmokers remain exposed to secondhand smoke in the United States. In 2013–2014, approximately 58 million nonsmoking Americans were exposed to secondhand smoke.”
Perhaps the saddest exhibition of how a lack of appropriate legislation to protect nonsmokers from the effects of secondhand smoke can be seen in the health of our children. According to the CDC, “The effects of secondhand smoke is particularly hazardous for children because of their increased intake of air relative to their body weights as compared to adults.
Secondhand smoke causes sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), acute respiratory infections, middle ear disease, and more frequent and severe asthma attacks in children. It is estimated that about 14 million US children aged 3–11 years are exposed to secondhand smoke.” Smokers should know that their suicidal smoking tendencies impact us all. Perhaps, enacting laws that would charge smokers with homicide when their secondhand smoke causes the death of a loved one who breathed in their second hand smoke for years and finally succumbed to a smoke-related illness like heart disease, lung cancer, or asthma. If smokers are not ashamed of what they are doing to their own bodies, they should be ashamed of how their reckless actions affect those who are unfortunate enough to be around them.