Tuesday, February 19, 2008

What Do You Say To A Pregnant Smoker?

(Commentary) If the measure of being a good Christian lies in not judging others, then the most devout people in the nation, the ones who truly don't need to look to the "What Would Jesus Do?" wristbands, can be found in smoking lounges and sections of U.S. airports.

These places are peopled with live and let-die folks. It's like being at the horse track. No one judges you. You can be 200 pounds overweight and missing an arm and people just don't care.

Which is why none of us in the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky Airport smoking lounge a while ago said anything about the unmistakably pregnant woman dragging down a cigarette in the facility.

Now, of course, pregnant women shouldn't smoke or drink or do any number of things. Some pregnant woman shouldn't even be pregnant.

When you see a pregnant woman firing up a smoke the "It Takes a Village" part of the brain wells up in you to the point where you believe confrontation is the correct course.

But, then again, if the woman can legally have an abortion, then it's sort of pointless to tell her she can't smoke.

"Oh, you think I should put my cigarette down just because I'm pregnant," I imagined her saying. "Good point. I'll just go get an abortion."

Then there's always that great fear that said woman is not in fact pregnant, that she has developed the corpulence of a McDonald's regular or a beer bulge. About the worst thing a man can do to a woman is refer to her as pregnant when she's not. I've done it, and vowed never to repeat the mistake.

In the not-to-distant future, smoking around kids may be illegal. Bangor, Maine, passed an ordinance banning smoking in cars in which any of the passengers are under age 18. At least one judge decided a custody battle based solely on the fact that one parent smoked and the other didn't.

Clearly people shouldn't smoke around kids (another argument to allow smoking in limited public places like bars so smokers can gather together and spare their families).

That being said, if the government intervenes in the smoking arena, then is a child's diet next?

Will Happy Meals be banned? Will parents with deep fat fryers be fined?

The Associated Press reported some alarming numbers with weight issues involving high school football players in Iowa. Do we start to prosecute pushy coaches and parents?

In the end, had this woman been someone I knew, had some connection or relationship with, I would have said something about the smoking.

But she was a stranger.

And I see strangers doing things as parents all the time that I find abhorrent. There are the ones who constantly demean and diminish their kids with cruel comments. The psychological damage surely rivals second-hand smoke in terms of life impact. You also see kids running roughshod over parents, doing whatever they please, showing about as much discipline as a cocaine-and-sex addict with a winning lottery ticket.

Unlike the 1970s, when I was growing up, parents are not too keen on being told anything about their kids by teachers or neighbors, much less strangers.

Short of seeing a kid being physically abused or abducted (where we have a duty to act) there's not much of a role for the concerned stranger these days.

People are making the case that smoking around a kid is a form of physical abuse even though the child may grow up just fine. Additionally, if you use the smoking-as-child battery logic, the choice to live in pollution-filled cities, like New York City, instead of in the cleaner-air environment of, say, South Dakota, would also be a form of abuse as well.

So there you have it. All of this considered, would any of you say something to a pregnant woman you don't know and will never see again who is smoking?

This commentary is cross-posted at Iowa Independent.com.

7 comments:

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My Re of Sun said...

Hello Douglas - got here by way of Sunshine. My answer: No, I wouldn't, here's why (a couple reasons). 1st-You don't know that she didn't smoke 2 packs a day prior to becoming pregnant. Dr's will tell a smoking woman who becomes pregnant that even reducing is better than changing nothing.
2nd-as you pointed out there are lots of things that MANY people shouldn't do. Yes, I'm sure the pregnant lady was aware that smoking wasn't good for her or her unborn child but she is the only one that will have to deal with the consequences whatever they may turn out to be after the child is born (unless she is giving it up for adoption - then there are usually pretty strict rules between mother and adopting parents). Just my 2 cents.