24 May 2011

Thank You, Mayor Bloomberg

The Times let slip in an article about a new ban on smoking in New York City parks and beaches that 57 percent of non-smoking New Yorkers have tobacco byproducts in their blood, indicating recent exposure to second-hand smoke.

Call it "nearly two-thirds," call it "more than half," call it what you want -- it's too many. Far too many. Nearly 20 percent of adults have heart disease or asthma (that's according to the Centers for Disease Control, so it ought to be fairly reliable) and shouldn't be exposed to any second-hand smoke. Add in the folks with other lung or circulatory diseases, and we're probably up to a good 25 percent.

I'm still fuming at the guy who objected when I pointed out he was smoking under a no-smoking sign in a New Jersey Transit station, saying it wouldn't hurt me. As it happened, I was recovering from pneumonia at the time -- so yes, actually, it would.

But I hate being put in the position of having to invoke illness, or invisible disability, to get someone to extinguish a cigarette. It shouldn't feel shameful, yet invariably, it does, because of the way our culture frames the ill as culpable, or malingerers -- or both.

Grrrr. Well, I'm grateful to Mayor Bloomberg for all he's done to combat smoking in public places. The ban will be "self-enforcing" according to the Times article; I hope it works.