A Walk on the Beach

Florida beach sunrise

Whenever feasible my wife and I enjoy a walk on the beach. This weekend was spectacular in southeast Florida, perfect for a peaceful, health-promoting amble upon a welcoming bed of sand. The ocean was obliging. The air carried a salt water scent and the breeze kept us comfortable as we strolled during the sun’s rise. Then it happened. The pungent odor of cigarette smoke invaded our space, instantly driving away our much-needed bliss. We looked at each other wondering who could possibly smoke at the beach. After all, the beach is meant for physical and mental salubrity. It is nature’s place; it is the embodiment of our reconnection to our roots, the birthplace of humanity in fact. How could someone mar this place and what would that someone look like?

Sitting by the shore, two young parents – accompanied by their three castle-building children – puffed continuously on their cigarettes. Walking thirty-plus feet from them, my wife and I could barely tolerate the smoke they emitted. Imagine then how much smoke their kids were inhaling! We know from countless studies that second hand smoke is deadly. In fact, every year approximately 40,000 Americans die as a consequence of second hand smoke. And, in view of our focus on healthcare dollars, we cannot ignore the extraordinary financial toll tobacco takes on our economy. Money is one thing. Offending my wife’s and my sensibilities and putting us at risk is another. Even more consequential though is the fact that these parents were unwittingly (I hope) putting their own children in harm’s way. Is this child abuse? I would argue it is. The data are irrefutable. Tobacco in any form – smoked, chewed, sniffed, or even involuntarily inhaled – can kill us. And, death aside, the immense cascade of hostile chemicals caused by tobacco and nicotine are terrifying. That being so, how is it not child abuse to subject one’s offspring to an ongoing and deadly threat? So while healthcare reform stares us unblinkingly in the eyes, let’s not neglect some of the most obvious and profound changes we can legislate. Let’s honestly and fervently take on the tobacco issue. Make smoking in public illegal. Make smoking in the presence of children illegal. In this situation let’s not get sidetracked by issues of civil liberties for the tobacco abusers. If they want to smoke in private, that’s okay. But, they are killing the rest of us. That is simply unacceptable.

Tags: , , , , , ,

No comments yet.

Post Comment