Sunday, May 22, 2011

It's time for the City of La Quinta to have Smoke-free parks

Feeling like a slug after surgery, I wasn't able to take my dog Joey, for his daily 45 minute walk. Instead we went to the local dog park. Within a few minutes someone else walked in, sat next to me and lit up a cigarette. I could have asked her to put it out but since it's not against the law in La Quinta, she didn't have to, and after having major surgery, I wasn't up to a confrontation with a smoker, so my only option was to leave the dog park.

I was fortunate to be a candidate for delicate re-constructive micro-vascular surgery after having my breasts removed from cancer. Smokers are not eligible for this surgery because of the damage smoking does to the newly connected blood vessels and the risk of tissue rejection is great. Smokers are required to stop smoking for at least 6 weeks before and after surgery. Exposure to secondhand smoke is also a risk to non-smokers and I was also told to stay away from it because it could damage my blood vessels and I risked losing my new ta-ta's.

It wouldn't have been a problem if I lived in Palm Desert, since they have made all city property, including parks, smoke-free. New York City has recently done the same, and banned smoking in it's parks and beaches. There are some people, even in tobacco control, that think this is social engineering gone too far. After all, you can avoid a smoker by walking around them or just not go to the park at all, which was what I was forced to do.

At one time, the rest of the country thought California had gone too far in banning smoking in work-places. Now it is common to find smoke-free laws across the nation. I believe we are at that same place and someday it will be commonplace to have smoke-free parks and beaches. 

Smokers see our beaches as one big ashtray with cigarette butts being the number one piece of trash on California's beaches and a major source of toxins killing aquatic life. Cigarette butts,are made of plastic fibers and take 12 to 15 years to disintegrate. The tobacco left on the ends, contains nicotine and other poisons, which birds see as food and wash into the ocean. A recent trip to my local dog park, I counted about 10 butts thrown in the grass, exposing the noses of the dogs to harmful toxins. Dogs of smokers are at a high risk of nose cancer due to their long noses, cats get oral cancer from licking the toxins off their coats. 

So I believe it's time for La Quinta to join Palm Desert and New York City in making our parks smoke-free because why should someones addiction over ride my use of a public facility? (or anyone with a health issue where secondhand smoke is a danger). Why should smokers be allowed to role model their addiction in parks where children are allowed? And why should smokers be allowed to trash our parks and beaches with their butts?

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