Menu

The Voices in My Head: We can all breathe easier

Photo credit:

For the most part, both the representatives for the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Living and the smokers and bar owners left fairly content. I do have some points on the issue I want to make. I heard twice that tobacco doesn't cause cancer. That's true. It doesn't.

Smokers, non-smokers and vapers crowded into the Sulphur Council Chambers Monday night to hear a City Council introduction of an ordinance that would expand smoking prohibitions within city limits.

The ordinance being introduced was one recently passed by the New Orleans City Council and was being used by Sulphur’s council as template over which they would place their own changes.

Prior to the meeting, the New Orleans ordinance had been disseminated via local social media. With no context given as to it being used as a template and no explanation that an introduction does not mean an ordinance will be passed. Hence the standing room only meeting.

I won’t list all the exceptions to the ordinance passed by the council. Suffice to say, the ordinance that took shape Monday was reasonable and provided protections for non-smokers as well as allowances for smokers and was in no way the monster those who attended thought they were coming to fight.

For the most part, both the representatives for the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Living and the smokers and bar owners left fairly content. I do have some points on the issue I want to make. I heard twice that tobacco doesn’t cause cancer. That’s true. It doesn’t.

It’s the myriad of other poisons inextricably mixed with 99.9 percent of all tobacco sold that does. I guarantee you that without those addictive chemicals, a proposed prohibition against smoking pure tobacco wouldn’t draw the crowd it did Monday night.

Were it just tobacco, everyone could handle a few hours in a bar without needing to set any on fire.

Also, it was asserted that the Council, “should not have this much power.” To the contrary, we elected these men and women to represent the interests of all residents of Sulphur. And when the actions of one group of people has a harmful effect on the health of others, it is most certainly the job of the governing body of the city to do something about it.

Any “right” a person may have to smoke, is superseded by the “right” of others to not have to inhale harmful chemical-laden air. I’ve spent most of my adult life battling a nicotine addiction. But I’ve never felt it entitles me to pollute the air around me. Many Lake Charles bars passed smoking bans. And the parking lots are full.

My husband played in a band for decades and I remember his relief when he would get contracts at non-smoking clubs. He also took those offered at smoking clubs and inhaled the equivalent of a case of cigarettes every hour of his four-hour gigs. It is unreasonable to ask my husband and the rest of those in the service industry to limit their employment opportunities just to avoid cancer.

The item on Monday’s agenda was an introduction only. No vote will be taken on anything agreed upon by the council until next month’s meeting.

Introductions are a chance for the Council to ask questions and recommend amendments so that when the issue is brought up for a vote, everyone is on the same page. I applaud the council for having the courage to bring this issue up and I applaud Councilman Randy Favre for speaking up for all the stakeholders in this issue.

I think we can all breathe a little easier now.

If you want to chat, share a story idea with me or even holler (yell at me in all capital letters), drop me a line at hrwhite@sulphurdailynews.

© Copyright 2006-2015 Gatehouse Media, Inc. Some rights reserved