My neighborhood’s culture has changed a lot in the last year or so. I wish I were excited about this change, but I’m not.
It’s not that I’ve suddenly become an ethnic minority on my street. I might find that fascinating. There have been some departures and some new arrivals. As far as I know, many of the new people are very nice. The thing is they’ve changed the local culture–and not for the better. At least not as far as I’m concerned.
At first glance, there are some positive changes. People are around and visible. They sit on their stoops. They call out friendly greetings or smile and nod.
So what’s the problem? They smoke. A lot.
Many of them rent and aren’t allowed to smoke in their homes. Others don’t want to expose their children–or their homes– to second hand smoke. I understand that. I’m thankful they want to protect their loved ones. That’s the good part.
The bad part? I’m negatively affected by it. If I want to keep my house smoke free in warmer weather, I can’t have any of my windows or doors open. The people I share a porch with . . . smokers. The family two doors down from them? More smokers than I can count. The family three houses in the other direction? You guessed it, smokers. Across the street? Smokers. In the houses behind mine? More smokers.
I applaud public health laws that keep second hand smoke away from the general population in restaurants and other public places. I’ve lived in places around the world where that’s not the case. I appreciate the way my exposure to smoke is limited in so many of the places I frequent.
I’m dismayed that there’s nothing to protect me in my home. I can’t enjoy my porch without the stench of the stale smoke that has permeated the building materials of my house. I can’t sit and enjoy the sun without poisoning my body while my neighbors are present . On a warm day, I can’t fill my home fresh air. On a really warm day, I have to choose between sweating and inhaling another’s smoke while it permeates everything I own.
I can think of no good solution to this problem. Legislating away cigarettes seems unlikely for a number of reasons. Asking my neighbors to smoke somewhere else isn’t reasonable. I just know the culture in my neighborhood has changed, and I don’t like it.
What changes have been going on around you?
photo courtesy of graur codrin on freedigitalphotos.net