The city of Bangor, Maine, previously known only to fans of Roger Miller, has just made news by banning smoking in cars if children are present. Some consider it a case of the government going too far, but it turns out — and I hadn't known this before — that Arkansas, Louisiana, and Puerto Rico recently did something similar, and California, Connecticut, and the state of Maine (as opposed to just the city of Bangor) are considering it.
And I have to say, as someone who spent his youth feeling nauseated in smoke-filled cars (well, I did other things too, once in a while), that I approve of this and wish they'd had such a thing fifty years ago.
The measure in Connecticut was proposed by a nine-year-old boy, the first time I've heard of someone that young taking it on himself to petition his legislators — and succeed. The boy, Justin Kvadas, has this to say:
It's bad if a baby gets dropped off at a day care and smells like cigarettes. It's also bad for their lungs because their lungs are so small.
Bangor city councilwoman Patricia Blanchette has similar thoughts:
I am tired as a taxpayer of paying for people to take their children to the emergency room because they've had an asthma attack. [...] Why are we taking these very, very fragile little bodies, putting them in a confined area and allowing people to blow smoke into their lungs?
One resident who doesn't like it is “Denise Savoy, a nonsmoker whose father smoked five packs a day and died of emphysema”. Ms Savoy is “unconvinced of the health risks”:
Doctors are trying to say all these kids have asthma, ear infections. You know what — I had one ear infection in my life. My kidsspent a lot of time around my dad, and my oldest two children had lots of ear infections and tubes in their ears, but my youngest two had none of it. My father was fine until about the last year and half of his life.OK, I hear this silliness so often, and I still can't believe that people are that dense. “Uncle Joe smoked all his life and lived to be 90,” and variations thereof (like this one), are not counterexamples to the deleterious effects of smoke. Let's put this right out there, clearly: Smoking and being around smoke increases your chances of being ill. It doesn't make it certain. But it increases your chances. What part of that do some people have so much trouble understanding? Just 'cause Uncle Joe didn't die from it don't make it safe. The fact that Ms Savoy's father was “fine” until he developed emphysema and died isn't a reason to deny the effects of smoke. For one thing, her dad might have lived to be 88, instead of 78, had he not smoked — that “last year and a half” might have extended for a decade or more. For another, Ms Savoy points out that two of her four children had “lots of ear infections”, and then uses the fact that the other two didn't to say, “So what's the problem?”
To the contrary, Ms Savoy has good reason to accept the health effects of smoke. But even if everyone in her family had been healthy and had no evidence of smoking-related maladies, that still doesn't refute the sentence in boldface above. If, to pick a number out of the air, half the people who smoked for 30 years died early of a smoking-related illness, that would still mean that half didn't. You could find lots of people who were “fine”. That said, would you want to take those odds?
I just find it unbelievable that people can deceive themselves like that.