Letter to the editor

Cigarettes leave smoke, family members behind

Dear Editor:

I am driven to write in response to a column by Don Norvell, who does not agree with the anti-smoking movement.

I am very much in favor of the anti-smoking movement, not because I hate smokers, but because I love them. My parents both smoked my entire childhood. I have been an orphan for 10 years. My father died of a stroke that occurred as he was lighting up yet another cigarette. He lived for two weeks, aware that he was dying but unable to talk. I spent those two weeks holding his hand. As the oldest of five children, I was the one who had to tell my mother surgery was not an option to ease the pain caused by her lung cancer, a cancer her oncologist told me occurred only in smokers. I cared for my mother for four months until her death.

I have a daughter who does not smoke, but works at a restaurant, where she serves smokers, and therefore, she is exposed to second-hand smoke every day for hours at a time as a requirement of her job. Even though she has graduated from college, no other jobs she has had since graduation provide her with enough income to pay off her student loans. Smokers have a choice whether or not to smoke, but servers have only the choice to work in a smoky environment or quit. Fortunately, the Columbus areas where my daughter lives has passed a no-smoking policy that includes her restaurant, so my daughter will be able to work in a healthier environment.

Also, restaurants now divide up their interior spaces into smoking and non-smoking areas, and with a ban on smoking, the entire interior space could be smoke-free. I have been in restaurants and choked on the smoke in the ladies’ rooms, because smokers were placed in non-smoking sections, but couldn’t get through a meal without a cigarette. A building-wide ban would help keep the air clear in the rest rooms. Restaurant owners would not have to set aside any areas at all, and seating would be much easier for them. They would no doubt save money on sick time caused by respiratory ailments from their employees being exposed to smoke. A state-wide ban on smoking, such as California’s, would mean restaurant owners would not have to worry about losing money from smoking clientele who would leave their establishments for one that allowed smoking, because no establishments would allow smoking.

I agree with Don Norvell that the government regulates far too many things, and that our personal freedoms have been eroding over time. In fact, if there were a method by which smokers could inhale ALL the smoke they generate, and NONE of it escaped into the common atmosphere, I would be all for maintaining smokers’ rights. However, if I have to choose between my health, the health of my loved ones and smokers’ rights, well, then the choice is obvious.

I do not want anyone else to die from a smoke-related disease or to suffer the chronic diseases caused from smoking, such as emphysema, where patients have to cart around little oxygen tanks with them everywhere they go. I do not want any more children with asthma to have their illness exacerbated by nearby smokers. There is no good reason for continuing to smoke and no good reason for continuing to provide places for smoking.

I realize how addictive smoking is. My parents tried to quit for years, and watching their failure, I never started smoking. I do not want to smoke; I do not want to be around smoke. I do not want Mr. Norvell to smoke, but it is not because I want to curb his freedom. It is because I do not want his children to be orphans.

Diana Huntley

Secretary, Department of Pan-African Studies