Several weeks ago there was a meeting about smoking in the workplace, particularly establishments that make their living at night serving drinks and fun to the public. The meeting was about the safety of the employees and the health effects that smoking has on them. It dawned on me that many of these folks don’t have a say in whether or not they are exposed to secondhand smoke and they typically don’t have medical insurance to cover the costs if they were to develop any condition that requires medical attention. I used to be there, I spent years working in the restaurant industry, walking through smoke filled bars delivering cold drinks to the patrons and not once did I ever think about the effects of secondhand smoke. Obviously I was a smoker at that time but when I quit smoking I quit that job luckily I had a place to go that provided a safer work environment. However in this economy many don’t have that option.
Should people be forced to work in a place that increases their chances of developing heart conditions and cancer just so they can provide for their family? Nearly 50,000 Americans die each year because of the health effects of secondhand smoke. This is preventable and as a smoker can you honestly sit there puffing away on your cigarette knowing that the cute little waitress bringing your drink could develop a life threatening condition? Or is it not your problem because she chose to work there. It is quite obvious that smokers don’t care about their health so why is it allowed that they can endanger others?
Luckily with recent bans on smoking in public places, studies have shown that there is an impact. The problem may not be solved yet but we are heading in the right direction. Smokers need to realize that they are hurting others by their habit, I know I didn’t give much thought to it but maybe if I did I would of quit sooner knowing that my actions were killing other people.
Here is an interesting analogy: A smoker can legally pollute the air of nonsmokers with poison that may eventually kill them however it is illegal to poison a person’s food day after day which may also result in the person dying. What is the difference? Either way you know that the effects are deadly, these days you can’t hide behind the veil of ignorance and say, “you didn’t know”.
As a society we need to learn to live together and stop putting nonsmoking children, adults, and elderly at risk. We need to open our eyes to the health effects of smoking on nonsmokers and actually care. In this day and age I am still appalled when I see someone driving down the street smoking in their car with their kid in the back seat. When are we going to care enough to actually get it?