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I grew up surrounded by cigarette-smoking senior adults, as did many of my Baby Boomer Generation compadres. When I would go to visit them with my kids, it was considered the norm and I was not comfortable asking them not to smoke around us. I am now wonderfully surrounded by non-smokers, including many who were life-long smokers and quit.
I was very encouraged to read a press release from the American Heart Association with some great info from a report based on the results from “13 studies in which researchers examined changes in heart attack rates after smoking bans were enacted in communities in the United States, Canada and Europe. The researchers found that heart attack rates started to drop immediately following implementation of the law, reaching 17 percent after one year, then continuing to decline over time, with about a 36 percent drop three years after enacting the restrictions.”
They also found that “The reduction in heart attacks from secondhand smoke after smoking bans are passed is consistent with estimates of individual heart attack risk from exposure to secondhand smoke.”
The primary focus of the reports is to encourage communities to pass no-smoking bans in public places, a move I heartily endorse. I have visited several new-to-me areas in the past few years and gone back and forth between smoking and non-smoking cities. I LOVE the non-smoking cities! It is so much more pleasant and easier to breath in the restaurants and businesses I visit!
As Sandwich Generation senior home care givers and grandparents, we may not be able to singlehandedly change the laws in our area. We can, however, vote to change them AND we can make sure our own homes and those of our loved ones are delightfully smoke-free.
This isn’t always easy, I know. One dear senior uncle, in particular, refused to give up his cigarette smoking even when I brought my children to visit. It made for difficult and shorter visits due to our allergies. He later quit smoking totally and became the most vehement anti-smoking lobbyist you can imagine – not an uncommon happening.
I never quit visiting elderly relatives and friends who insisted on smoking, but I did become braver at asking them to not smoke while we were there and most were good about saying, “OK” to that request. I always looked for quit smoking tips to encourage them to quit, such as a gentle reminder that quitting smoking is one of those great ways to save money. With great research info like this study to show them, perhaps we will all find it easier to at least have no-cigarette-smoke visits and maybe even gently encourage our senior parents and other relatives to quit – for the sake of the younger generation, since there is now overwhelming proof that their choice to smoke really does hurt others.