poison

16 12 2006

Tomorrow WorldThe elevator brought Emma and me up the the roof top ride in Disney World. As we ascended, the elevator’s loudspeaker reminded us of safety issues, told us of Tomorrow Land’s vision, and finally reminded us that there was no smoking permitted at this portion of the Disney complex.

Emma turned to me and asked, “Dad, what is smoking?” There was a collective gasp from many adults who were riding in the elevator with us. I’m sure they were wondering how I would answer this innocent question. I quickly replied, “We can talk about it when we get back to the hotel tonight.” Emma was satisfied with this, and we exited the elevator to enjoy a rooftop spin in a spaceship. The other adults in the elevator were satisfied too, but one dad offered how difficult this subject is in his house, due to the fact that his son’s grandmother smokes cigarettes, and it makes the teaching of cigarette dangers complicated.

cigarettesCigarette smoke is poisonous. I certainly am no scientist, but there are some things are are obvious enough for most to grasp without having to “Google” or research. Cigarette smoke hurts me. No, I’m not being overly dramatic. When I come close to cigarette smoke, my inhalations are painful. On days where my sense of smell is dulled by a cold or allergies, I will feel the pain of the smoke before I smell it. My body reacts so keenly to cigarette smoke, that I can tell you if someone is smoking in another car, 3 vehicles away at a stop light – all with the windows closed tightly. I feel this pain every day – only when I am in proximity to burning cigarettes.

Here’s the interesting twist. Cigar smoke does not hurt me – pipe smoke does not hurt me (hurt, no – harm, yes). Cigarette smoke hurts always. The complete list of ingredients in a good (not a ‘Swisher Sweet’ from the drug store) cigar is:

Tobacco

That’s it. Hmmm. If burning cigarettes hurt to be near, and cigars do not, then it must be something other that the tobacco that irritates me so greatly. You will never get a list of what is in a Marlboro cigarette. It certainly would be different than the list of ingredients in a Camel Cigarette.

If you buy loose tobacco & roll your own cigarette, take one puff & set it down in an ashtray, it will go out in a few seconds. If you pull a manufactured cigarette out of a pack, light it, take one puff, and then sit it in an ashtray, it will continue to burn all the way down to the filter. There must be something added to the ingredients list of that cigarette to keep it glowing without the fanning of being smoked. Additionally, a Marlboro smoker will always return to buy Marlboros. What is in that cigarette that channels the addiction so narrowly?

My personal physical aversion to cigarette smoke steers me (intellectually & emotionally) to teach my children that cigarette smoke is poison – to be avoided as if it were gunfire. Like my elevator companion at Disney World, I have close family members who smoke cigarettes. My daughter will ask why these family members smoke cigarette. She will wonder why they are hurting themselves and others – even the bearded guy in the car behind the car behind them. He smells it. It physically hurts to breath it. She will ask why they are doing something that will make them sick. Maybe I won’t have to face this. Perhaps this blog entry will be that last small shove toward quitting that will stick.

Emma will ask her question again. I will be honest with her. I can’t put it off another time. I have a responsibility to do so.

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