I found avoiding cigarette smoke in the U.S. quite a challenge as it seemed there were few regulations in regards to were someone could smoke in public. In fact, while at the start line of the New York marathon I was shocked to see a fellow competitor light up a cigarette among the other runners. Surely a start line of a marathon should be a smoke-free zone?
The Effects of Smoking
Take three minutes to watch this video. If you still think I’m sounding like a typical ex-smoker who is being dramatic than consider this. Smoking can cause:
- Lung cancer
- Heart disease
- Reproductive effects in women
- Premature, low birth-weight babies
- Blindness, cataracts and age-related macular degeneration
Add to this the fact that smokers often have bad breath, bad teeth and smell of stale cigarette smoke you have to ask: why smoke?
Avoiding Cigarette Smoke
As I said earlier, as COPD patients we need to avoid cigarette smoke and have strategies to help us accomplish this. We can simply say we need to avoid areas where people smoke, but that’s a little simplistic for me.
Do some research on your local area; find out if there are shops, restaurants and other venues you may frequent that are smoke-free. It also pays to know the smoking habits of your neighbors so you don’t have smoke wafting through your windows and causing you grief.
Your workplace can be another source of contamination, as most workplaces will have designated smoking area. Make sure your employer is aware of your requirements, as a poorly thought out smoking area can affect your health and productivity. These days most employers are required by law to ensure a safe and healthy work environment.
Likewise, if you’re traveling to another part of the country or a different country, find out their smoking laws. There will be differences in other countries and it’s important to know what they are. Without doubt the most stupid place I have seen a smoking area was the entry to the respiratory clinic, where I had my lung function test.
Unfortunately, we live in a time where businesses of all types don’t take into account the needs of people with respiratory disease.
On our recent trip to the U.S. we spent four days in Las Vegas as we’d never been there. I knew that smoking was allowed pretty much anywhere in the casino areas, but what I didn’t realize was we had to go through these areas to get into our room. I won’t be in any hurry to go back there, mainly due to constantly smell of stale cigarettes and being constantly breathless.
It seems strange to me that so many respiratory conferences are held in Las Vegas given the fact that smoking contributes so much to lung disease. I guess when smoking is so common in some countries the location doesn’t make a lot of difference.
The reality is smoking is going to be with us for many years because legislators won’t change laws out of fear that come election time their decisions will mean less votes. Maybe it’s time we formed an international respiratory political party to bring about change.