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Secondhand Smoke Leaves You Breathless

December 21, 2001

You wonder which Times editorial blows the most smoke in nonsmokers' faces: "Gun Smoke Is the Park Peril" (Dec. 18), which correctly states that "secondhand smoke, after all, poses the greatest health risk with continued exposure in enclosed areas," or "Let's Ban Silly Bans" (Dec. 1), which ridiculed Maryland's Montgomery County's fledgling attempts to protect nonsmokers from drifting secondhand smoke getting into the sanctity of the "enclosed areas" which we, including apartment renters, dare to call our homes.

If you think that walking (or running) through a cloud of secondhand smoke in a park is, however briefly, a choking experience (and I agree, it is), just try sleeping well in an apartment renter's upstairs home in which the fumes from a subjacent tenant's cigarettes fill your airspace all night. It's like being trapped in "The Matrix" versus, well, taking a walk in the park.

Now the one thing both would-be ordinances must have to be effective is an enforcement mechanism; some smokers, albeit not all, just won't take "please" for a call to cooperate.

Harvey Pearson

Los Angeles

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Those who favor the smoking ban in parks have once again decided that the state makes a better parent than Mom or Dad. Since the dangers of environmental smoke in such a setting are nonexistent, one must presume it is the example that worries proponents. Protecting children from seeing behaviors we don't want them to acquire (and they will eventually see all of them) deprives them of the mechanisms to make intelligent decisions.

As a public high school teacher, I see the results of parents not parenting, of children without the know-how to make intelligent/moral choices. Removing them from the presence of smokers doesn't give them the mental paradigms to resist; it teaches the older ones that demanding the removal of those whose lifestyles we do not approve of is encouraged in our society. Check your own behaviors carefully; "they" may be coming for you next.

Vickie Burns-Sikora

West Hollywood

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