Smoking is a public health crisis, killing, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 400,000 Americans a year. The CDC estimates that secondhand smoke kills an additional 3,000.
At one point my grandparents were part of the statistics; both died of emphysema, a long and painful disease that resulted from years of heavy smoking.
No wonder Philadelphia’s smoking ban was one of the The Inquirer’s “top stories of 2006.”
Thanks to a broad social movement of concerned citizens fed up with having to live with – and eager not to die from – secondhand smoke, I can now enjoy eating in restaurants and cafes without having to worry about carcinogenic smoke polluting my lungs or ruining my dining experience.
I don’t have to worry about my kids inhaling such smoke in restaurants, stadiums, trains and other public spaces.
Yet cigarettes continue to invade and degrade our public spaces.
I am continually disgusted by how many littered cigarette butts I have to step across when entering malls, movie theaters, and other public venues.
I have developed the habit of saying to people who drop their cigarette butts: “Pardon me, but I think you dropped something.”
Perhaps next time they’ll deposit the butt in a receptacle for that purpose – or punch me in the nose.
I have also developed the habit of flashing my high beams at drivers who throw lit cigarette butts out the window.
Driving the Blue Route and local roads I routinely see drivers …