Blowing Smoke

A minister decided that a visual demonstration would add emphasis to his Sunday morning sermon.  So at the beginning of the message he placed four worms in four jars: the first containing alcoholic wine, the second cigarette smoke, the third chocolate syrup, and the fourth good soil.  At the conclusion of the message he reported the following results: the worm in the wine was dead, the worm in the smoke was dead, the worm in the syrup was dead, but the worm in the soil was still living.  The clergyman then asked the congregation, “Now, what can we learn from this demonstration?”  An old lady sitting in the back, quickly raised her hand and said, “As long as you drink, smoke, and eat chocolate, you won’t have any worms!”  That pretty well ended the service.

In this week’s Pastor’s Page, it is not wine or syrup or soil that I want to talk about, it’s cigarette smoke.  In particular, President Barak Obama and tobacco.  Let me explain.  The Obama’s teenage girl, Malia, has asthma.  She first showed signs of the chronic disease at the young age of four.  Then at this month’s White House conference on the environment, the President squarely placed the blame for his daughter’s breathing problems on global warming and resulting polluted air.  He then went on to warn that if the government does not spend hundreds of millions of dollars more to fight man-made climate change, then many other children, like his child, will also be getting asthma.  However, those who do not believe in global warming called this cheap political spin.  They pointed out that, according to Environmental Protection Agency, from 1980-2015, air quality, due  to less pollutants, has improved by some 66%.  His critics then added – if the nation’s first family is really looking for their asthma culprit; in this case it’s much more likely that of Malia’s father and his past years of smoking.  Now it is not my purpose to get into any of the political in-fighting going on south of the border between Democrats and Republicans; however, a statement made by the President’s supporters in defense of his tobacco use did catch my attention – “But he always did his smoking outside of the home.”  And that’s the topic I want to cover.  I believe I can safely say that most people are aware of the second-hand dangers from cigarettes smoked inside a building (with many laws passed to prohibit it).   But I also believe I can safely say that few are aware of the second-hand dangers from cigarettes smoked outside a building when the tobacco user returns inside.  A recent report by the National Institute of Health confirms the latter.  They state, “Even when smoking is done outside the home by the care-givers: nicotine in infant’s hair was found to be five times greater and nicotine in infant’s urine seven times greater than those infants of non-smoking care-givers.” How can this be?  Because whenever you smoke, poisons such as (nicotine, tar, carbon monoxide) get in your hair, on your clothes, and remain there for at least an hour.  You also continue to exhale toxic fumes for some time after extinguishing the cigarette.  So if you have a smoke outside and then come inside, the baby is exposed to all those toxins, either through touching or breathing.  This in turn makes the little infant more susceptible to any number of ailments including, yes,  asthma.  As one pediatrician bluntly put it, “When you smoke, your baby smokes.”

I know no parent wants to think their habit may have hurt their child; but sometimes you have to look in the mirror to find the guilty party – and not searching the stratosphere for some other invisible culprit to blame.