It's your prerogative to puff away -- but just stay away from me and my daughter.
Jeanne Sager: Approaching the front door of the bank, I wrap my daughter's hood tightly around her chin and hold her face to my chest. It doesn't matter that we're headed inside, away from the bitter New York cold; I'm not trying to avoid the wind.
It's trying to protect her from the smoke that is making me look like a bodyguard ushering a Hollywood starlet out of jail without the paparazzi getting the faintest hint of her identity. Because even in February, smokers are lined up outside the bank, the mall, the government center -- the self-aggrandizing crew patting themselves on the back for sacrificing so much for their coworkers by moving their dirty little habit outdoors.
Lucky for those coworkers; unlucky for the rest of us who have to use these public buildings day in and day out. A much-criticized New-York-State law actually prohibits smokers from puffing in proximity to public entrances, yet there they stand, forcing me to run pell-mell toward the parking lot holding a 4-year-old whose heft is starting to catch up with her age.
It's not my finest moment. I run like a toddler who's just seen Cookie Monster try to eat Elmo. And that's on a good day -- when I'm not wearing winter boots coated in rubber and lined with a ton of fluff.
But if you'd read the new study on what thirdhand smoke can do to your kids, you would be crazy-toddler-running to your car, too.
Published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the study was summed up in Scientific American this week, wherein I read that "thirdhand smoke" -- the contamination left behind even after a butt has been stomped out -- is creating "carcinogenic compounds known as tobacco-specific nitrosamines (TSNAs)." And how's this for terrifying: The study's coauthor announced that these TSNAs are "the most broadly-acting and potent carcinogens present in unburned tobacco and tobacco smoke."
Couple that with a study in the journal Pediatrics, wherein experts tell us that thirdhand smoke is especially dangerous to our kids. The experts even go so far as to say that "breathing air in a room today where people smoked yesterday can harm the health of children." What's more, they say that cigarette residues cling to a smoker's clothing and then jump to surfaces they touch inside -- even if they extinguished the cigarette outside.
And I'm supposed to feel jazzed that you decided to step outside to light up?
Stores are finally recognizing moms' buying power with pregnancy-friendly parking and on-premise babysitting. But I can tell them all how to guarantee my business: Put the puffers out to pasture, and make your front door a safe place for my kid.
|Jeanne Sager is a mom to Jillian and a writer from upstate New York. She's strung words together for Babble.com, Kiwi Magazine and AOL's Holidash, and she shares her award-winning weekly newspaper column on her blog, Inside Out.|