NYC & The Fight over Fresh, Clean Air

Warning: if you smoke, you should probably stop reading right now because you won’t like what I have to say!

I spent the past weekend skiing with my kids in the Berkshires—and was disgusted standing in the lift lines behind people smoking. I had nowhere to go with my son and we had to stand there and breathe it in or get out of the lift line. Despite my son saying very loudly: “Mommy, something’s stinky!” the smoker just kept on smoking and then tossed his butt in the snow. Lovely.

Smokers are slowly losing more and more places to light up. A bad thing? Not at all!

Then, when we went toward the lodge for lunch, we had to pass through smokers—and a haze of cigarette smoke—standing outside for a puff.

NYC has just taken a stand by banning outdoor smoking in New York City’s parks, beaches, boardwalks, pedestrian plazas, and other outdoor public spaces—from May 23. I say hallelujah! Just as bad as standing on a ski mountain breathing in smoke is sitting on a beach having to breathe in the fumes of a smoker—or biking, running, or rollerblading in the park near someone taking a drag.

I know all the arguments: smokers have rights too. Yes, that’s true, but the bottom line is clean air should trump all. Period. End of story.

We all know about the research (smoking—including secondhand smoke—causes cancer and emphysema, as well as myriad other problems), so I don’t need to highlight those here. But smokers should not let their habits affect the lives of those who choose not to smoke.

Just think if every time someone chose not to exercise, you gained an extra pound? Or if restaurants mandated that everything would now be fried food, you’d be like: wait, I don’t want to eat that because it’s not healthy for me! So why should the unhealthy habits of some people affect those of us who choose not to do it?

Thank you, Mayor Bloomberg, for taking a stand! I can only hope that other cities and states follow suit.

Valerie LatonaAbout Valerie Latona
As the former editor in chief of Shape (the active lifestyle magazine) for 5 years, I personally spoke with a lot of women (thousands over the years, from around the nation) and what I found is this: it's not easy to stay healthy, to get (and stay) fit, and to stem the weight gain tide (and even the tide of disease) that inevitably happens to us as we get older.