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Secondhand Smoke and Firsthand Problems

Filed Under: Sexual Health at 11:38 am | By: Susan Coyle, Senior Editor
WaitressMaybe you are one of the few who think smoking bans in restaurants, bars and cafés are ludicrous displays of governmental power with no merit or justification. You are a “Let Them Smoke” advocator, believing that anyone should be able to light up anywhere they damn well please. Maybe there is a pack of cigarettes currently burning a hole in your back pocket, itching to be pulled out, lit up and smoked, but rendered idle by the no smoking signs surrounding you. Maybe you are fed up with all of this nonsense about secondhand smoke and the dangers to nonsmokers. Maybe you don’t believe and are tempted to whip out a cigarette right now to prove it, but maybe you should consider this:

A teenaged girl working as a waitress in Michigan walked into her place of employment feeling perfectly healthy.  Fifteen minutes later she told her boss that she needed to go to the hospital, as she was without an inhaler and could feel an attack beginning. As she was leaving, she collapsed on the dance floor. Paramedics attempted to revive her but could not. She died after suffering from an asthma attack caused by secondhand cigarette smoke.

Secondhand smoke is a very real danger. It can be, in fact, worse than firsthand smoke, since the substances that are emitted from the lit end are more plentiful and toxic than those inhaled by the smoker.  If an individual with asthma is over-exposed to cigarette smoke they are likely to experience coughing, wheezing, difficulty breathing or, in the most severe cases, death.

There is a reason for the ban on smoking in public places, and it is not simply to inspire you to quit. The people around you are endangered by your habit. They are at risk not just for an asthma attack but for lung cancer and heart disease as well. By limiting yourself (if not giving it up entirely) you are lengthening the lives of the people you love.

And if that’s not enough incentive, imagine sitting in a bar enjoying a beer when your waitress crumples, landing on the floor unconscious. As the paramedics wheel her out of the restaurant, they cite a smoke-induced asthma attack as the cause. You look down at your hand and note that you are holding one of the smoking guns, sorry, cigarettes.

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One Response to “Secondhand Smoke and Firsthand Problems”

  1. Phil says:

    The day when people could smoke just about anywhere and feel that it was nobody else’s business should be long gone. There have been many studies over the years that show that secondhand smoke has serious health consequences for non-smokers. That poor waitress was an extreme example of how badly someone with a pre-existing condition can be harmed by tobacco smoke exposure. There have been several other documented cases where an employee either died from a smoking related illness from years of secondhand smoke exposure, or successfully sued for a large sum of money due to an ailment related to secondhand smoke. Both the medical community and the courts have concluded that the harm done by secondhand smoke is real, and that it can be so severe as to cause death.

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