Citizen Wausau

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The Rights of Smokers

by on July 21st, 2008

Before dinner last night, my little family and I went to Schofield FunDays to have some community time. We basked in the boyish bliss of the bounce house and giant inflatable slide until our delight was tainted by the actions of one woman on the playground.

As a way to lure our toddler son away from the rides, we promised him some playground time at the school playground near where we had parked. I ran around with Ben, taking too many pictures of him as usual, and Chris stayed on a bench with Baby Anna.

A woman with children came to join us, but she sat down next to Chris and lit up a cigarette, just a couple feet away from Anna’s face. We left. Ben has asthma, and Anna, as a preemie, is especially susceptible.

We were in public and outside, so that’s a smoking area, right? Sure, but it’s a school playground.

Chris and I hotly debated the issue on the way home. We were both outraged and indignant by her rudeness, but I drew similarities between people who are sensitive to cigarette smoke and people who get migraines when in the presence of perfume wafting through the air. When do the rights of the sensitive people outweigh those of others?

Though I smoked for several years, I don’t anymore, mostly because of my children but also because the severity of my family history of lung cancer finally knocked itself into my thick skull.

Soon after quitting, I became hypersensitive to the smell of cigarette smoke. I avoided it because it made me long for the good ol’ days when I could indulge. When I was pregnant, I avoided it for the sake of my gestating baby, and I was annoyed but resigned to walking through the smoking section of the Log Cabin Restaurant to get to the restroom.

Like the sensitive people who avoid perfume, I now avoid cigarettes. I walk away. I pack up my kids and leave. I silently judge those who smoke in their children’s faces. I quietly hope that someday, the desire to quit wins out over the nicotine addiction.

How do you feel about smoking bans? Should there be different rules for places for children rather than for adult places like bars?

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