Having to leave a birthday party before the cake is pretty traumatic for six-year-olds, but last December that is exactly what happened to my daughters Gracie and Callie. Even though the owner of the bowling alley had assured me it was safe to bring Callie, who has asthma, because the facility was “smoke-free” during the day, Callie began having breathing problems soon after the party began because people were smoking in the bar.
Relying on the faulty “magic half-wall” theory of smoke control, the bowling alley’s definition of “smoke-free” meant my girls had to leave or risk significant illness. As it was, Callie was sick for three days.
“It’s not fair. People shouldn’t smoke around kids.” Callie cried in the car.
“Why do we have to leave? They should have to leave.” Grace argued.
They were right. It isn’t fair. We need a clear definition of smoke-free in Wisconsin. I explained part of my work as the Chair of the American Heart Association Wisconsin State Advocacy Committee is to make sure everyone can enjoy restaurants and bowling alleys without having to worry about smoke. “Can we go next time? I want to tell someone about leaving before the cake!” Grace said.
Since then, both girls have told anyone who will listen about why we need to keep cigarette smoke away from children – even Governor Doyle.
Our whole family is working to make a difference. You are never too young to learn about standing up for what you believe. I am delighted the American Heart Association has given my husband, Clay, and me the opportunity to show our girls the importance of advocacy!
There are smoke-free initiatives all over the country. To get involved in your area join the American Heart Association’s You’re the Cure Network.
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Eliz Greene is the Busy Woman’s Guide to a Health. Drawing on her experience surviving a massive heart attack while seven-months pregnant with twins, struggling to lose the 80 pounds gained during her pregnancy, and her background as an adaptive movement specialist, Eliz developed simple strategies and tips to help other busy women be more active, eat better and manage your stress.
As the Director of the Embrace Your Heart Wellness Initiative, Eliz travels the country energizing and inspiring audiences in keynotes and workshops on women’s heart health. She writes one of the top 100 health and wellness blogs. Find more at www.EmbraceYourHeart.com