HAMBURG — I was driving on Route 219 going toward Hamburg the other day, when I passed a vehicle containing a mom and dad; two children were sitting in the back seat. The mother was smoking.
If you are reading this, you know who you are and yes, I’m calling you out.
The little boy, who couldn’t have been more than 5 years old, was sporting a Burger King crown and was happily waving to the cars passing by him, blissfully unaware of the toxic smoke he was breathing in.
Smoke that science has proven is deadly. Smoke his mother needed to inhale so badly that she would risk her children’s health to do so.
And then, as if to defy even the environment, the smoker rolled down her window and flung her still-burning cigarette butt outside, where it proceeded to land on my car. I admit it: I honked at her to let her know that I didn’t appreciate her throwing her bad habit at me.
I know we all do things we aren’t proud of. I won’t even try to pretend I don’t have any bad habits.
But no one would bite their nails and spit them at people or pick their noses and flick the findings at their friends. So why is it socially acceptable for people to wander about, smoking and blowing toxins into other individuals’ faces, and throwing their cigarette butts off into the abyss, caring not where they land?
This isn’t just annoying; it’s potentially deadly.
To all of you who smoke, I know that it is your legal right, and I respect that. It is also your legal right to have children, but I don’t think you should have the freedom to constantly mix the two.
Isn’t it your child’s right to have good health?
The American Cancer Society said that people inhaling environmental tobacco smoke, also known as secondhand smoke, “take in nicotine and other toxic chemicals, just like smokers do.”
Except they are doing it involuntarily. The ACS said that secondhand smoke has been linked to many kinds of cancers, asthma and asthma-related problems, low birth weights, heart disease and lower respiratory tract infections.
Approximately 46,000 non-smokers in the United States die from heart disease per year and about 3,400 non-smoking adults die of lung cancer each year: both as a result of breathing in environmental tobacco smoke, according to the ACS.
Please, think twice before lighting up around people who have no choice but to inhale the secondhand smoke: especially young children.
Make this a healthier, happier country for us all.
I applaud New York City politicians’ recent campaign to raise the age to buy cigarettes from 18 to 21. I hope that this will deter young people from beginning to smoke, a habit that could haunt them for the rest of their lives.
In a separate matter, New York state law specifies that owners, tenants, occupants, etc. of building or grounds abutting streets with sidewalks must clear snow, ice and dirt from the sidewalk within four hours of a snowfall.
Obviously nobody would expect local business owners to get up at 2 a.m. to shovel the sidewalks in front of their buildings, but many walkways throughout Hamburg have been consistently impassable.
This is not only dangerous, but is a deterrent to individuals who may wish to patronize your businesses.
Get out those hats, gloves and snow shovels and make sure the sidewalks stay clear!