This time last year, my wife and I were expecting our first child and were thrilled that in just six short weeks we would be able to cuddle our newborn. As an expectant father, I had many dreams and many visions of raising a child, along with many questions and unknown answers that sparked serious concerns and fear in my mind. Reflecting on the past, I realize many of these questions or fears were somewhat ridiculous – but the one thing I cared about the most was that my baby was born healthy.
Many factors beyond our control contribute to the health of pregnant women and their babies, but one factor that my wife and I didn’t have to worry about was secondhand smoke. We live in a community that is smoke-free, and my wife works in a tobacco-free environment, which means we were able to go to work and go out for fun without concern for secondhand smoke. Our unborn child was not exposed to the harmful effects of secondhand smoke because our community made being healthy the easy choice for me, my wife, and my soon-to-be child.
Just after Thanksgiving in 2014, our daughter was born—healthy.
At the age of ten months, our daughter is about to walk on her own. She is strong, full of energy, and still healthy. Our pediatrician reminded us that as she grows, we need to continue to provide her with a “strong start” in life. As parents, we will not be able to protect her from everything that may harm her – but at least we don’t have to worry about healthy air. Our smoke-free community allows my daughter to breathe clean air. Unfortunately, as we travel to see family or enjoy the sights of our great state, my family will face secondhand smoke in public places where smoke-free policies do not yet exist. As my daughter grows older and plays sports, sings in the choir, and visits college campuses we will have to travel and could visit one of the many Kentucky counties that don’t have clean indoor air. All children deserve to breathe clean air and live healthy lives. Kentucky ranks 41st in childhood asthma problems, which is in part due to triggers from secondhand smoke. I want my child to love this state like I do, but not at the expense of her health.
We know the risk factors of smoking and secondhand smoke. Let’s protect our children and give them the easy choice to be healthy and not have to worry about secondhand smoke.