Constitutional right to smoke?

By From page A5 | June 04, 2012

EDITOR: Good day Mrs. Obama,

I wrote the president two or three years ago, not expecting a reply. Much to my surprise, I received a letter back. I am pretty sure it is a form letter. The focus was different than my topic. However, I still told my family and friends the president responded.

I told the El Dorado Chronic Disease Prevention Coalition that I would write something on this subject. I am writing you in hopes that you will share with the president my concern about his smoking. I feel he owes it to those of us who voted for him, and the country as whole, to set the right example, and quit. It’s seems contradictory of him to take on the health care system, while he still smokes.

Constitutional right to smoke?

I respect smokers who are responsible with their butts and who respect nonsmoker’s right to breathe clean air. I tell friends and patients who ask, that I will share with them everything I have been taught about smoking, tobacco or anything else. That it will make them feel uncomfortable, however not to take it personally, because I do not judge. I smoked for nearly 30 years. I know how hard it is to quit. I do not think anything less of them for smoking. I just want to help if I can, so they don’t have to suffer like so many people I have seen, including both my mom’s parents, who passed from emphysema.

For one example, Phillip Morris and R.J. Reynolds handing out free cigarettes to children in Third World countries, hoping to get them hooked by the time they start earning money. Lungs aren’t fully developed until the age of 12 years young. A little smoke, and second hand smoke, can have disastrous effects on them, as it has in puberty and through our early 20s, when natural physical growth subsides. And once destroyed, lung tissue does not regenerate.

Our founding fathers of the Constitution of the United States could not foresee the impact tobacco would have not only on our society, but in the world.

If they had, they would have given clean air rights to the 87 percent (seven out of eight) of the population in the 21st century who do not smoke, knowing the lethal health risks second hand smoke causes and third-hand, which is the smell of it in clothes, furniture, floors, carpet, paint, walls, bedding, upholstery, transit, can trigger asthma attacks.

Government and school buildings have “No smoking within 30 feet” signs posted for a reason, though many smokers ignore them.

Nobody has the right to risk the health of my child, spouse, parent, relative or friend, especially if they suffer from respiratory diseases, sitting nearby polluting the air they breathe. It’s not going to happen if I am around. More than 300,000 asthma attacks are triggered each year from smoking. Have you ever seen a 9-year-young girl suffocate to death from an asthma attack triggered by third-hand smoke? I have. Her parents should have been charged with manslaughter.

More than 400,000 U.S. citizens die each year from smoking, more than AIDS, alcohol, drugs, car accidents and homicides combined. Contrary to public belief, smoking is the leading cause of liver cirrhosis.

I hope you, the president, your daughters, your families and friends are fine, and all is well. Thank you for your time. Best regards and wishes.

California Respiratory Practitioner, Placerville

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