Now I’ve developed COPD as well. All the little things I used to do—going to church, to the ballpark to see my grandsons Jake and Luke play baseball—I just can’t do anymore because I can’t be around smoke. I’m always happy to hear about smoking ordinances being passed and will continue to give support to the politicians making this issue a priority.
The smoke was actually the biggest downside of work. I was at plenty of bars that allowed smoking this past year as a bartender and as a clinical researcher. It was not just the fact that by the time I left, I felt miserable, almost nauseous sometimes, but my eyes would burn, and my clothes would smell awful. I was sick a lot this past semester. The smoke was probably one of the main reasons for that, too. It affected other things in my life. I like to work out. I do kung fu. I do jujitsu. They are very physically demanding, and the smoke interferes with that.
I feel that while smokefree policies protect the nonsmoker, they create a supportive environment for people who want to quit. I know a lot of people who wouldn’t want to go to certain bars because they were far too smoky. Now, that’s not an issue.
Having asthma means I have to take control of my situation, but I don’t always feel like I can ask other people to go somewhere else to smoke. When I go out, my friends and I make conscious decisions to go places that aren’t smoky. I am excited to see the environment start to change and have more protection. Smokefree environments give me and other asthma sufferers a voice.
I come from a family of smokers—I’ve always been one of the few that never smoked. As a child I had smoke allergies that were constantly aggravated at the holidays when the family gathered and smoked indoors.
In the last few years, I have played in the clubs, and it’s so nice to work in Nashville or cities that are smoke free. I remember people saying “Oh, they’ll never make it,” and, “Nobody will want to go to the clubs if they can’t smoke.” But it seems that they’re doing very well. I wish all work places in Muscle Shoals were smokefree so that everybody would be protected.
Since I worked security or the door, I had the option to go outside and get away from smoke. However my coworkers had no choice and had to deal with the health effects. On our busy, most popular nights, they would be behind the bar from 9 to 12 nonstop, constantly making drinks, and they didn’t really get a chance to take a break. Now that Birmingham is smoke free, we can all breathe better. The after effects are diminished since we all don’t have to deal with the smoke. What’s great now is that I have the privilege of staying inside, and I don’t have to be around smoke.
Some client quotes
of us could be in the presence of smoke.
It wasn’t a political statement. It wasn’t any sort of like versus dislike. It was that we literally had health problems that being in the presence of smoke would make us both sick. Long story short, after having asthma for five or six years, my husband developed the flu, which turned into pneumonia, which then turned Adult Respiratory Distress Syndrome, which is just a terrible disease. Older people usually don’t survive it. Young people sometimes will, and because he was only 50, they thought that he would bounce back. He just didn’t. Once he went on life support, he never came off.
I buried my husband on my 49th birthday. My husband was introverted. I’m extroverted. He was such a polite gentleman that he would never call someone out on smoking. Whereas I would say, “Excuse me, do you mind?” Unfortunately, the current laws do not protect everybody equally. That’s what needs to be reversed. We’re not living in a country where we’re taking away any rights. As a matter of fact, it’s quite the opposite. We’re protecting rights. It shouldn’t be a “you can smoke or we can breathe” issue. It should be a “you can still smoke, and I can still breathe” issue. Let’s not do the two together.
I find it hard to believe that anybody, even heavy smokers, would want to intentionally hurt somebody. They’re concerned about their rights, as they should be, but in their minds, their rights outweigh the health of others. It’s our job to get them to understand the health concerns.