There is a multistate childhood tragedy under way in the United States, and no one seems to care. So far, Missouri is not one of these states, nor is Kansas, but the pressure is on.
After the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency was created Dec. 2, 1970, pesticides, industrial pollution and the automobile were its first targets. Tobacco-smoke-poison-versus-healthy-lungs was not even in its sights. It should have been — scientific evidence and 40,000-plus smoking-related deaths a year prove it is equally toxic, if not more so, than the DDT, burning sewage-dump rivers and smog the EPA has focused on since its inception.
Recently, some local and regional progress has been made concerning tobacco smoke. States, cities, towns and businesses have banned smoking in some workplaces and public areas, but the EPA hasn’t shown the courage necessary to really protect those who are still most vulnerable to the dangers of second- and third-hand tobacco smoke — our youth. (“Third-hand smoke” refers to the reeking smoke residue that clings to the skin, hair, clothing, furniture and anything else within traveling distance of the smoke.)
Those who smoke inside their houses with younger family members present are causing untold damage to the developing lungs and respiratory systems of those youngsters. Similarly, if those of legal smoking age are driving the family somewhere in cold weather with the windows closed and the heater on, or in hot weather with the windows closed and the air conditioning on, and younger family members, friends or relatives are in the vehicle, these younger victims often have no say about the poison they are being forced to breathe. The youngsters then develop lung problems and grow up to become a societal burden on the medical community or, worse, become smokers themselves.
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Now, nine states have added marijuana to this environmental airborne poison. However, marijuana smoke is not just a respiratory irritant — it also affects the young, developing brains of future generations. What impairments will these youngsters’ minds develop after years of constant oxygen deprivation and brain-cell alterations due to the poisons in marijuana smoke?
On the national level, the dangers of smoking have been relegated to the jurisdiction of the surgeon general. Why? Is this because so many EPA members and legislators are themselves smokers, both tobacco and marijuana? Having the scientific evidence we have about the toxicity of tobacco smoke, this is unacceptable. And having the evidence we have about the mind-altering dangers of marijuana, this is tragic.
The “right to smoke” ends when the smoke leaves the tip of the cigarette/cigar/pipe or the mouth of the smoker and drifts to others. Since smoking is an environmental public health issue and, consequently, an environmental public health hazard, especially to the younger members of our society, the EPA needs to accept its responsibility and ban smoking — tobacco, electronic and marijuana.
The legal-recreational-marijuana states praise the amount of tax income the sale of this toxin produces. Let’s look at this intelligently and fourth-dimensionally: How much future tax money is going to be required to take care of those who develop mental-health issues due to recreational marijuana?
And with an increasing amount of the future population requiring mental-health care, draining tax resources instead of being productive society members and supplying tax revenue, where will this needed extra tax money come from? The simple fact that recreational marijuana has been made legal in so many states where the proponents have been clandestinely smoking it for so many years is reasonably clear evidence that otherwise-intelligent minds have already been detrimentally altered.
According to the first part of the mission statement of the EPA: “The mission of EPA is to protect human health and the environment. EPA’s purpose is to ensure that all Americans are protected from significant risks to human health and the environment where they live, learn and work. …” Really? Then why is smoking still permitted? Smoking ruins more young lives than all the school shootings and drive-bys combined.
“Banning smoking won’t work — just like banning alcohol during prohibition didn’t work.” Not so. Alcohol directly affects just the drinker, while tobacco and marijuana smoke directly affect everyone nearby who breathes it.
The future of our nation’s health requires a smoking ban, and if our elected legislators don’t have the courage to do it, then the EPA must.
Rod Rom has been an award-winning mower-shop owner and professional author for 30 years and is a Vietnam War Veteran.