Anyone who dares to light a cigarette in 2011 has got to have a set of nerves harder than new cinder blocks. Restaurants, bars, and other public venues have booted them out, so to speak. There are orders in place that outlaw lighting up directly outside of government buildings, and car manufacturers don’t even include ashtrays in their newer models anymore for fear, I guess, that they’ll seem like they support the bad habit.
Not to mention the furrowed frowns and grunts of disgust people let fly if they happen to get caught in the trail of some random smoker on the sidewalk. Flashers and peeping toms almost get better treatment than someone with the audacity to puff a stogy in public these days.
So just when it seemed like there couldn’t be any more social disdain dumped on the collective doorstep of the contemporary cigarette smoker, Long Island, NY is the latest metropolis to jump on the bandwagon to make it illegal to suck down a Kool with a kid in the car.
The smoking ban, which has been introduced to the legislature in Nassau County but has relative versions on the floor in Maine, Louisiana, Arkansas, and California, could hit offenders with a $1,000 fine if they get caught blowing their stack with anyone under the age of 18 as a passenger. Considering many teens themselves are indulgent smokers, the proposed law would also be another incentive for youngsters who should’ve been making plans to quit anyway.
Someone somewhere out there is going to argue that it’s a Sasquatch kick to our civil liberties to not even be able to enjoy a whiff of nicotine in our own automobiles if we want. They’ll argue that the legislation, if passed, will invite other basic rights to be encroached upon and pretty soon we’ll be living under the thumb of tyranny.
Yeah, yeah, yeah. Maybe. Or it could be that, given the information we now know about secondhand smoke and its effects on our bodies -- especially young bodies -- lawmakers want to save the poor babies from being the victims of inhaling unfiltered tar. It’s one thing if a person picks up a pack of cigs themselves and makes the conscious decision to become an addict. It’s quite another if they’re an innocent bystander being molly-whopped by clouds of their parents’ smoke wafting into the backseat.
I guess the secret’s out that I see no problem with the passing of any such bill.
Growing up in the 80s, before all of this Surgeon General-warning brouhaha, you just sat there and snorted the smoke and looked happy about it. Once in a while, a health class might yield some information that you happily trotted home to dangle in front of your parents as evidence they should quit, the stress of which immediately prompted them to reach for their pack of Marlboros and a lighter.
I would never tell her to her face because I wouldn’t want her to feel guilty (and thank goodness she’s long given up on reading every blog, article, or editorial that I write) but I’m told by my doc that the asthma I developed in my adult years is the result of a one-two punch between terrible allergies and my mother’s years of smoking. I was the kid in the backseat choking down billows of smoke. Back then, word was just getting out about the dangers of cigarettes and moms, even good ones like mine, just didn’t know how serious it was for their own bodies, let alone their children’s. But now that we have the stats and info in hand, what reason would any parent have for subjecting their kid to their own bad habit?
Is it inconvenient to have to wait until the kids get out of the car to have a smoke? Maybe. But you know what else is inconvenient? Going to the pharmacy to have your kids’ inhalers refilled on the regular. So are doctor’s visits and respiratory tract infections and asthma pumps. Most of us are striving to have healthy children with healthy lungs and respiratory systems. That can’t happen when parents spark up cigarettes while their kids are strapped-in captives of their smoky backlash. It all seems pretty simple to me.
Do you think these laws will discourage parents from smoking around their kids in general?
Image via SuperFantastic/Flickr