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Friday, December 3, 2010

Suck in that Second Hand Smoke

Wherever I go in the neighborhood, I am chased by ETS’s. I’m not talking about extraterrestrials but something called environmental tobacco smoke. The fact is, our neighborhoods are filled with too many smokers. I don’t know why this is. The packs of cigarettes sold everyday at the local Wawa on Aramingo Avenue would fill a warehouse in Hoboken. People here are smoking as if there’s no tomorrow.

Maybe there’s not a tomorrow for them if they continue on the smoking path. As a libertarian might say, “That’s their choice,” but does that mean I have to breathe in those ETS fumes and become a kind of honorary smoker myself?

ETS fumes penetrate house walls (and turn them a sickly yellow over time), so if your next door neighbor smokes you more than likely know how ETS swirls into cracks and crevices around your doors and windows, and then penetrates the walls of your house. The “gifts” of ETS-- airborne tar, nicotine, carbon monoxide and ammonia components-- increase your chances of lung disease by 25%. The flow of ETS fumes from one row house to another is no doubt exacerbated by the cold weather months, when smokers who would normally smoke outside on the sidewalk are lighting up in their houses instead.

People explain their smoking addiction with inane rationalizations like: “Life’s a terminal illness, and you have to die of something!” (Translation: Let’s end things today by jumping off the Ben Franklin Bridge!)

While it’s true that nobody gets out of here alive, that doesn’t mean that we have to rush towards the angel of death with open arms.

The beautiful girl with unblemished skin who lights cigarette after cigarette outside Thriftway doesn’t seem to realize that the fumes from her Newport or Marlboro will cause her face to wrinkle early and look older than her age. Cigarette smoke reduces collagen levels on the skin and tends to cause “sagging” on both the arms and the face. It also yellows the teeth and the eyes, hardly desirable traits if your intent is to appear sexy.

That Thriftway girl naively assumes that the damages caused by smoking will be problems for a distant day in the future. Unfortunately, her small child not yet a year old in the carriage next to her has no such choice. While Mother thinks she may be making healthy concessions by blowing smoke away from baby, baby is still getting doses of ETS. And if Mother happens to be smoking indoors, not only is baby getting full blast ETS, but so is the family pet.

ETS also “soaks” into the house furniture, rugs and upholstery and creates a cocktail of toxins or another “gift bearing” offshoot: Third hand Smoke, meaning tobacco smoke that lingers long after the cigarette has been put out.

Third hand smoke fumes can gestate for hours and are potentially dangerous for infants and children.

Still, if your intent is to kill a beloved house pet, the best way to do this is to “smoke” it to death.

A Swedish study found that 6 out of 7 cats in a smoking home had pathological changes in the lungs. These changes often indicated the emergence of cancer in most of these cats.

A Colorado State University study indicated that smoking homes can cause long-nosed dogs like pugs to increased risks of nasal cancer. Short-nosed dogs like Collies and German Shepards are subject to increased risks of lung cancer.

What’s even more shocking is that ETS even affects the innocuous houseplant.
The website for Americans for Nonsmokers Rights declares, “Chemicals resulting from smoking can affect plants by diminishing their carbon dioxide intake and clogging up the pores on leaves…” ETS has a negative effect on photosynthesis, a crucial part of plant development.
The upshot to all of this is: If you want to smoke, smoke, but think twice about lighting up if you live in an apartment or row house with thin walls.

I know we all have to go sometime, but only a madman wants to arrive early for that “party."

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