No Smoking... in Your Own Home?
Many cities have banned smoking in public places, but the city of San Rafael, California, about 15 miles from San Francisco recently passed a ban on lighting up in duplexes, condos and other multifamily homes. It’s the toughest smoking ban in the nation.
E.R. physician Dr. Travis Stork says studies show that secondhand smoke kills 40,000 to 50,000 non-smokers in the U.S. every year. Still, The Doctors wonder whether the law goes too far.
“It’s a difficult question between your own private rights and health,” OB/GYN Dr. Lisa Masterson says.
Anita, a San Rafael resident who lost her husband to smoking in 2005, supports the ban. She doesn’t agree with the argument that “your condo is your castle.” She uses an example of a child with asthma who lives in a condo next to a smoker.
“Do they have to move out because you have a right to smoke?” she asks. “No, maybe they have a right to clean air.”
Thomas, a San Rafael resident who says he has a couple of cigarettes a day, calls the ban “government overreach.”
“Maybe I’m an old-fashioned American, but I do think that a person’s home should be their castle, and government should stay out of it, and if you want to smoke in your house or on your patio, I think you should be free to do it,” he argues.
Thomas says the smoking ban is based upon “so-called science” and says studies show that there is “almost no effect of secondhand smoke.”
Dr. Travis says there have been 45 studies on 33 different smoking bans, and all the studies have shown the legislation dramatically reduces risks of cancer, heart disease and strokes.
“You actually, I feel, had some convincing points to your argument when you talked about your home is your castle and what you do in your home, but, Thomas, you are fooling yourself if you’re going to call the science about secondhand smoke not science,” Dr. Travis counters.
Dr. Travis asks Thomas to feel two sets of lungs. One is pink, soft and healthy, and the other has been exposed to smoking. It has black spots, which he explains are carbonaceous deposits.
“Whether you’re smoking it from the cigarette or you’re getting that smoke from someone else smoking the cigarette, it’s doing damage to your lungs,” Dr. Travis says.
Smoking bans will continue to be a hot-button issue as more cities consider them and existing bans are extended beyond public areas.
“The question ultimately becomes how much do you legislate to improve the health of a community,” Dr. Travis says.
Tips from America’s Healthiest Cities
The Doctors partnered with SELF magazine to reveal America’s healthiest cities and how you can incorporate healthy practices into your life no matter where you live.
“It’s not your address but your attitude,” SELF Editor-in-Chief Lucy Danziger says. “You can live healthy anywhere.”
No. 10: Burlington, Vermont
Burlington, Vermont, makes the list because it’s home to some of the nation’s healthiest eaters.
“Healthy eating can overcome a lot of things that we may feel like we are predestined to,” Dr. Travis says. “Believe it or not, eating fruits and vegetables actually can turn off genetic codes for heart disease.”
Lucy notes that the healthiest eaters consume 11 more servings of fruit and veggies a week than the least healthy eaters. That’s fewer than two servings per day, she says.
Dr. Lisa says a lot of people avoid buying fresh fruits and vegetables because they tend to go bad.
But Dr. Travis says that you don’t have to shop at farmers markets to get the benefits of produce. He says frozen vegetables often pack more nutrients than fresh ones, as long as you avoid those with added sugar or buttery sauces.
• Find out which cities rank Nos. 9, 8 and 7, and what health tips you can learn from them.
No. 6: What health tips can you learn from Santa Ana, California?
No. 5: What can you learn from Honolulu, Hawaii?
No. 4: What can you learn from Santa Barbara, California? Plus, Dr. Travis shows you how to stay fit no matter the climate.
The Top Three Healthiest Cities
Learn from an Unhealthy City
Women in El Paso, Texas, have 11 percent more STDs than average, are less likely to get regular Pap smears and are more likely to have less health insurance coverage. As a result, there are 79 percent more deaths from cervical cancer in El Paso than average.
New guidelines say women should get a Pap smear every three to five years, but Dr. Lisa suggests that you talk with your OB/GYN because your risk factors could indicate you should get Pap smears more frequently.
Dr. Lisa shares tips for how to make a visit to your OB/GYN more comfortable:
• If possible, schedule your visit five to seven days after your period. Your doctor will be able to give you a more thorough exam because your breasts won’t be as lumpy or tender.
• You’re more comfortable if you’re warm. Exam rooms are often chilly, so wear socks to keep your feet warm.
• “Do not stick stuff up there where we need to look,” Dr. Lisa warns. Avoid using powders or douche. She also suggests abstaining from intercourse right before your exam. “Those little guys mess up the Pap smear results.”
Be Healthy Anywhere
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