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Saturday, May 17, 2008

Warning: second hand smoke is harmful to kids

The sign said, "Kid Zone: NO SMOKING."

Yet the smell of smoke wafted through the air around me. I turned around and saw 30ish year old man smoking in his car, two toddlers jumping around in the backseat, and a mom leaning on the hood of the car holding a baby, who happens to be sniffling and coughing.

I move myself and my little girl so we are now standing on the other side of the soccer field, yet the wind is still blowing the smoke our way. I turn around and watch as the scruffy faced dad tosses his cigarette butt out the window, apparently unaware of the fact he is littering.

I breathe in fresh, non-smoke filled air. It feels good. I figure we should have clean air from here on out. And, just as my daughter runs off amid the crowd of spectators, I smell smoke again. I do not turn around this time, though, because my son has the soccer ball and he's....

These people are so ignorant they can't even not smoke for one hour during a kid's soccer game. I wanted so bad to get up and tell this person to stop smoking. I never did, and neither did any of the other parents. I wondered if they were as annoyed by it as I was. I never asked.

I wanted to tell this person that I think it's fine that he chooses to put arsenic, acetic acid, acetone, ammonia, benzene, butane, carbon monozide, ethanol, formaldehyde, hydrazine, hexamine, hydrogen cyanide, lead, methane, mathanol, napthalene, nickel, nicotine, phenol, polonium, stearic acid, styrene, tar and toluene and 3,580 other substances into his body -- the contents of one cigarette.

But why make all these kids ingest these same toxins, which are poisons likely to cause cancer in humans, or cause one of the kids to have a flair up of asthma? Hey, second hand smoke is even known to cause asthma.

But that doesn't matter though, cause that guy is enjoying his cig.

After watching the game for a while, I notice I STILL smell smoke. Gosh darn it, I thought that cig would be gone by now. But no, he keeps lighting 'em up one after another. And then I notice the mom is no longer standing outside the car, she is inside with her smoker of a boyfriend. She has now joined him in smoking.

I was rather irritated. I thought again that I should go up to the open car window and tell that mom that a recent study found that infants are three times more likely to die from SIDS if their mother smoked during and after pregnancy. Also, infants are twice as likely to die from SIDS if their mother stopped smoking during pregnancy, and then started smoking again after birth.

I'm sure she wouldn't care, though. She'd probably just be annoyed that I was rude to annoy her.

That chronic cough, wheezing and excess phlegm your baby is coughing up is probably because of you, I wanted to say. And all your kids are very likely now, because of your ignorance and irresponsibility, to have a reduced lung function as they grow older, making them more susceptible to chronic lung and heart diseases, and therefore probably shortening their lives.

She would tell me I was just making this up to scare her. I'd tell her the facts, that 150,000 to 300,000 kids develop lower respiratory tract infections like pneumonia and bronchitis each year in children under 18 months of age.

When your baby develops bronchitis, you will get to know me very well, as statistics show that 7,500 to 15,000 of these children are hospitalized each year. If your child is the exception, it's only because you are lucky. Are you willing to play the odds game with your kids?

I suppose it doesn't matter so long as you are enjoying yourself. After all, it's all about you anyway.

I don't know if it's because I'm an asthmatic, have an asthmatic daughter, care about other people's kids as well as my own, or the health of my pregnant wife, or the fact that I'm an RT, that it bothers me so much that that guy continues to smoke and smoke and smoke and smoke some more in the span of a one hour kid's soccer game in the Kids Zone.

Yep, that guy and that mom have a God given right to do what they want in this life, but why they insist on endangering the lives of their children, let alone mine and all these other innocent kids running around this Kid Zone, I will never understand.

"Hey, there's a sign right there, can't you read it."

It's not just soccer but other kid events too that this happens. Last summer at baseball games I came across this same situation. There is always one jack-ass in the crowd who naively sits in his lawn chair puffing away, forcing everyone in his or her vicinity to breath in the second hand smoke.

Is it fair that I should have to keep getting up to move away from someone else's exhaled smoke? Or should I break the silence and become the bad guy who tells this smoker to put it out.

It's kind of ironic, isn't it, that I would consider myself the bad guy here, when the true bad guy is the one holding the cancer stick. Or am I wrong here?

Note: All the information and statistics provided in this post are compliments of a packet called "Michigan Smoker's Quit Kit," which was written by the Michigan Department of Community Health, 2006.


Djanvk said...

That is probably one of the best posts you have wrote. Excellent job.
I agree fully with you and your opinions. Thank god Illinois is not a no smoking in public facilities place now.

Djanvk said...

Also I submitted your article to so might bring you some good traffic.

Wendy said...

Oh yeah - tell those inconsiderate, ignorant parents to stop polluting the air. I would - but then I'm a grandma - and as you get older, you care less about what others think.
So - step up to those folks and politely point to the No Smoking Sign and all the rest of the parents will probably give you a standing ovation! I would.
And - thanks for the comment on my blog.

Amy said...

I get so, so angry when I see parents smoking at kids' events. My personal favorite is at the park, when I see them puffing with one hand and pushing their kid on the swing with the other!

The thing is, I used to smoke---right up until the day I found out I was pregnant with AG, and then I quit. So I totally agree with you on the personal choice issue. And even if people are smoking outside, say, a restaurant and I have to walk past them w/my kids, that doesn't really bother me, either. We just make a wide detour, lol.

But kids' events, even if they're outside? Come on. I don't see how any parent can justify that to themselves.

Awesome post--I'm keeping an eye out for your spirometry one, too, so I can link to it.

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