My home state of Iowa is the the midst of one of the smoking ban debates. The legislature is getting ready to vote on one of the toughest bans yet and the smokers are donning their martyr suits and bemoaning the end of democracy and the pursuit of happiness again. I had to listen to yet another indignant rant from one of my smoking sisters over Easter dinner with my father “amening” in the background. Both of my sisters smoke, but my dad quit almost three years ago when he had his first stroke. Despite the fact that he now suffers from smoking induced COPD and is dying, he is still a smoker at heart. My sisters like to make themselves out to be the victims now that they are banned from smoking in my parents’ house for good. They are supposed to go outside but if it is a bit chilly or rainy or snowing, they will simply go out to the garage and smoke the air blue. Of course it seeps in to the house but not enough to bring down the wrath of either of my folks though I have complained about it often. I have asthma. Smoke does terrible things to me. I can’t even walk quickly past a group of smokers without coughing and getting congested. I try not to cough though because this invites jeers and not so under the breath comments despite the fact that I am just trying to breath and not being insulting. Smokers don’t care. They are the victims. I am wrong to want to breath?
I am led to believe by the comments to my comment at the Des Moines Register discussion that I am wrong and should just keep my non-smoking, needing to breath, asthmatic self locked up in my home so that the smokers of the world can exercise their Constitutional right to impose their habit on others. My objection is that I don’t go to places where there is very likely to be smoke and on those rare occasions I do, I suck it up – literally. But when I am trying to go to the gym or shop for groceries or just walk down Whyte Ave after a movie at the Princess, I am enveloped in smoke. Alberta has really strict indoor smoking policies which basically prohibit it entirely. As a result, smokers (and I have never lived anywhere that I have encountered so many smokers) just crowd the doorways. Mainly to be asses about it. Here they joke loudly and try to embarass when you can’t hold in a cough or try to circle wide around them. They know. They just don’t give a fuck because they willfully refuse to believe that anyone would avoid cigarrette smoke for health reasons. We are just being elitist and don’t like the smell. God, that last argument is so lame I don’t know how anyone with even a half a brain can use it with a straight face. When I was growing up, I didn’t know that smoke really stunk up your clothing. It wasn’t until I went off to college and was visiting home that I realized how awfully offensive I had smelled to people as a child and teen. As a teacher, I had many students, especially when I was on Des Moines’s east side, who just reeked of smoke. I felt terribly for them. Other kids would say rude things or beg not to sit near by. I would think about myself and my siblings and wonder if I had been that bad. I know I was. What an awful burden my dad placed on me. It was selfish of him.
I put up with my sisters and father only until my daughter was born and then I demanded that they smoke outside or we wouldn’t visit. I was a bit surprised when my dad went along and thus forced my sisters as well. He grumbled a bit, to test me I think, but I stood my ground.
Will smoked. Never indoors though or in the truck when we were traveling. He hated that he did though. Cursed himself roundly for falling into the trap. He quit with the help of a hypnotist and would have probably been done for good but the damage his illness did to his brain undid his quitting as well. I finally just arbitarily pulled the plug on his smoking when he went into the nursing home because he was nearly blind and his balance was so bad I was afraid for his safety. Even with dementia though, he continued to be a very considerate smoker. So it’s not just the addiction but the type of person one isthat causes one to be a jerk to non-smokers.