Like many, I gave old man Tobacco a try as a youngster. After several inhalations, I nearly lost my lunch. Maybe that’s the secret to avoiding the old man, but he would get me in another way – for a while.
Firefighters get a bit nervous while sitting in the fire station waiting on the next call. Years ago – when I was a new firefighter – the common way to relieve that tension was Tobacco. Six of every ten Salina firefighters were smokers and there was no place in the fire station you couldn’t light up – including the kitchen table.
I was one of the four in ten non-users, but it’s fair to say that second-hand smoke had me taking in around a half-pack a day. A drive to work one morning changed things.
A radio national news reporter talked about a medical study that had recently been published in the New England Journal of Medicine. The study documented the adverse effects of second-hand smoke. I immediately recognized my opportunity.
I decided to write an anti-smoking petition. The petition asked for the entire fire station to be smoke free. It seemed like a good idea to ask for the whole and hope for a piece. Now you need to understand that this was early 1980’s – well before most buildings had smoking restrictions. The City of Salina had none.
I got a big percentage of the firefighters to sign the petition – even smokers. To everyone’s shock – including mine – the fire chief enacted my petition just as requested.
I was immediately about as popular as a diaper rash. Some eventually got over their hatred towards me, but some never did.
Over the years I have watched a number of my friends go through the withdrawal process of smoking cessation. I quit smoking another way.
Addictions have a strangle hold on many people. We need to help those that want it – users and bystanders.