Archive for Thursday, July 15, 2010

Smoking ban makes sense

July 15, 2010

It appears that Kansans’ long love affair with tobacco is waning. Baring litigation, indoor smoking is now prohibited in the state. Our state has joined nearly 40 others and several foreign countries making it illegal to smoke in public places.

Yes, I know this is somewhat controversial and as an ex-smoker I would have been angry and frustrated 25 years ago. However, I believe within a year the furor will have ended and the ban will be accepted. I have read that establishments in other communities that banned smoking earlier have seen no decrease in business. In fact, some have seen an increase because they now are able to serve non-smokers. The statewide ban is the only fair way to do this. Now customers can’t go somewhere else that allows smoking. In the long run, it will be a good thing.

There is no doubt second-hand smoke is hazardous to health. There are far too many tests pointing out second-hand smoke can cause cancer and many other health-related problems. Asthma sufferers have to avoid smoke at all costs.

Smoking dates back more than 1,000 years. Mayan Indians used tobacco in religious ceremonies. By the 1800s, cigarette smoking became popular throughout all of Europe and, of course, made its way to the United States. It wasn’t long before smoking was widespread throughout the world. This continued until the mid-1960s when the United States Surgeon General issued a study showing the hazards of cigarette use. Since that time, smoking has declined rapidly. In the 1960s, more than 60 percent of the American population smoked. Now that has decreased to about 20 percent.

Certainly attitudes toward smoking have changed radically in the past 25 years. In the 1950s, when I was in high school, students smoked on the front steps of the school. Bonner Springs High School had a smoking patio well into the 1980s. Smoking was permitted at all governmental meetings with ashtrays being provided. Now that has all changed as school grounds and public buildings are all posted as no-smoke zones. Outdoor sports venues such as Kauffman and Arrowhead stadiums prohibit smoking in the stands. Those who wish to puff are relegated to designated areas. Even before the statewide ban, there were very few places where smoking was allowed, and that number was dwindling.

I really don’t see why anyone would start to smoke in present times. I must tell you that one of the stupidest things I ever did was start to smoke. I didn’t take up the habit until I was out of college and for the silliest of reasons. I was teaching school in Council Grove, and everyone thought I looked quite young. Because all the other faculty members smoked, I decided to join in. Later in life, I switched to a pipe, which supposedly was less harmful.

Time took care of my problem of looking too young. So it would seem that smoking was a bad and unnecessary idea.

When I was in college it was recommended that athletes not smoke during the playing season because it shortened your wind. No one thought smoking would harm your health. In many ways starting to smoke was a rite of adulthood, however, there is no good excuse for a bad habit and health risk.

I was shocked when I recently checked the price of cigarettes and pipe tobacco. I can’t see how anyone can afford to smoke.

I quit smoking in 1988 when I discovered that a growth on my lip was pre-cancerous. About that time, I had a bout with bronchitis and didn’t use my pipe for three weeks, and that made it relatively easy for me to break the habit. I no longer had a desire to smoke. I have never touched a pipe, cigarette or cigar since and have no intention of doing so.

I would urge those who smoke to consider quitting, not only for their own health but for those around them.

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