One of my fondest childhood memories is the ride to Grandma’s house on Christmas Eve. All of us bundled up inside the Monte Carlo, music crackling over the AM station, my mother and stepfather smoking like chimneys. I can still feel the sting in my throat, the sensation of slow asphyxiation, the desperate involuntary eye watering.
Sometimes me or one of my brothers would crack the back window just a tad, and then stretch up to the opening and suck in a breath of cold precious air. “Shut that window, it’s cold,” one or the other parent would say. It was always hard to make out who, ringed as they were in thick smoke, their voices obscured by the ringing in our little heads. Up would go the window, sealing us once again in our dark smoky tomb. Good times.
And now I read that the Tennessee Medical Association wants to make it a crime for people to smoke in vehicles they are sharing with children. It’s just the latest assault on another family tradition. Next thing you know, they’ll issue warnings advising against cooking a whole ham and then letting it sit on the stove all day long so everybody in Grandma’s house can snack at will. Sure, we all felt a little green by the end of the day, but who’s to say that wasn’t the concentrated secondhand smoke?
Mark my words — if we let them take away our God-given right to pickle small children in a nicotine haze, they won’t stop there. Don’t come crying to me if somebody eventually questions whether it’s wise to let children watch fourteen uninterrupted hours of television, or if tossing a baby into the air repeatedly until he throws up is harmful for his development.