Children should not smoke

Jerry Smith is a local author and political activist.

Ads on Reno TV tell us second-hand smoke kills around 53,000 Americans every year. Maybe it’s none of my business if fools kill themselves off. But, I ask you, what about their children?

One publication from the Environmental Protection Agency says, “Infants and young children whose parents smoke are among the most seriously affected by exposure to secondhand smoke, being at increased risk of lower respiratory tract infections such as pneumonia and bronchitis. EPA estimates that passive smoking is responsible for between 150,000 and 300,000 lower respiratory tract infections in infants and children under 18 months of age annually, resulting in between 7,500 and 15,000 hospitalizations each year.”

As best I can tell, millions of children each year suffer impairments to their health caused by smoking parents. Many of these medical problems last a lifetime.

My father was a three-pack-a-day man. Throughout my childhood, I had black bags under my eyes. As a teenager, I was forced to use an inhaler and prevented from playing sports. My girlfriends didn’t appreciate my wheezing. As an adult, I still occasionally have breathing problems.

As a Libertarian, I can’t bring myself to ask that laws be passed preventing adult Americans from exercising what some deem to be a “right.” But I can ask you, my fellow citizens, to help prevent this form of child abuse. While it is not illegal to bring a child into the smoking section of a restaurant, is it not morally reprehensible?

There are things we can do. Always take your children to non-smoking restaurants. If you find yourself in a restaurant with a smoking section, fill out the comment card, asking the restaurateur to refuse to seat children in the smoking section, or ask to speak to the manager or owner and tell him personally. Remind him that there are many other establishments where you can spend your money. And don’t go back till they change their policy.

And you restaurateurs reading this, who among you have the strength of character to say “no” to child abuse? Which of you will step forward and refuse to seat children under 18 in the smoking sections of your restaurants?

Is that really asking too much?