I am a bartender. I do not smoke; I quit July 4, 2002. Every morning after I work I wake up with a stuffy nose and a cough. I have toyed with the idea of quitting, but I really enjoy every other aspect of the job. Besides, there are not very many non-smoking bars where I could look for a job. I can think of three total in the Cleveland area. I have decided to hold out on quitting until after November 7th to see what happens in the polls.
I support Issue 5 for many reasons. First and foremost, my health is very important to me. I take good care in what I eat, and choose organic as often as possible. I find it very difficult to accept that other people can have such an influence on my health. I find it hard to understand how the health department can approve my working conditions as acceptable. If the air quality were to be measured on a given night, I am sure that it would be appalling.
Last night I was a witness to an event that overshadows all of my previous reasons for supporting Issue 5. About halfway through my shift (probably between 8:00 and 9:00 pm) a young couple walked through the door, and I noticed them because they had a baby stroller with blankets piled on top of it. My first instinct was to be grateful for how diligently they were protecting their child from the smoke by the bar. Shortly afterward, I turned around to notice that they had chosen to sit in the first booth directly next to the bar in the smoking section. They had pulled the stroller up to the end of their table and were both smoking. At some point they were each drinking alcohol; he had quite a few, but I believe that the girl only had one or two. After a while the girl took the baby out of the stroller, held it for a couple of minutes and put her back. She was probably 6 months old. I felt so bad for the helpless little thing, as I was so overwhelmed by the amount of smoke by the bar.
They finally finished and paid, and I felt so grateful that I would not have to be a witness any longer. They stood up and walked around the bar to the game room. The game room is in spitting distance from the bar. Bar patrons can go in there to play pool, darts, or video games. It is not a large room, and it is not closed off from the rest of the bar. At about 10:30 pm the couple pushed the baby and stroller off to the side of the game room and played pool. The male came up to the bar several times to buy drinks and shots. There were several people in the game room smoking with the couple, and very loud rap music was playing over the speakers. I asked my manager if there was something that he could do. He said that there was not. The couple left after midnight.
This is not the first instance of adults having small children near the bar in the smoking section. I have even had to tell children, in front of their parents, that they cannot sit at the bar. I do not expect to change the IQ of the general population. I do feel that my health deserves to be protected. More importantly, I feel that the health of all people who choose not to smoke should be protected, regardless of age, profession, or any other factor.
I do understand the addiction; I used to smoke. I constantly regret smoking around my younger siblings, my friends, and the servers who had to be subjected to my cigarette smoke. I wish I could take it back. Unfortunately I was very young, not very worldly, and had grown up in a smoking house. This is our opportunity to set an example for the younger generations.
Smoking has been banned on airplanes, in classrooms, in malls, and many restaurants; these are all places that were once acceptable smoking zones. Our most advanced cities and fourteen states across the country have already taken the next step. This is where our future is headed. I hope that we, as a state, are strong enough to be leaders instead of followers. We have a chance to make a statement about our health and the health of our friends and family. Protect your loved ones and yourself. Protect the loved ones of those who cannot protect them themselves. Vote yes on Issue 5. At the very least, vote no on Issue 4.