Last week one of my sons came down from Boston a couple of days early to get some beach time before we left town and met up with other family members for my niece’s wedding. I’d been looking forward to that beach day with my son for several months. My husband took the day off, we packed up all our beach paraphernalia, loaded up the little SUV and headed to the Oceanfront. Wispy cirrus clouds spattered the clear blue sky.
If you’ve ever been a beach goer, you know the production of schlepping all your stuff from the car, dragging it across the hot sand, staking your spot, laying the beach towels or blanket down, setting up your chairs, and anchoring your beach umbrella securely in the sand. Once you are firmly ensconced in your spot, you ain’t moving until it’s time to go home.
So it was with some dismay as I watched a couple with a young daughter of about six set up their chairs right in front of us. No, it wasn’t that they blocked my view. Let’s face it; summer on Virginia Beach is packed, so it’s pointless to get upset about someone parking their things in front of you. What had me steaming was this man had the nerve to pull out a cigarette and light it, sending nasty smoke in my direction. Because the breeze comes off the ocean during the day, unless I picked up and moved, the cigarette smoke was going to keep coming in my direction. As my lungs felt the effects, I coughed loudly, hoping the inconsiderate man would realize how his smoke was making me suffer, but he was oblivious to its effects.
I know that people who smoke get angry when people complain about their smoking in public places. Yes, smoking has been banned in restaurants in Virginia, but there is no law against smoking outside, they point out. I, however, feel my right to breathe air not fouled by cancer causing cigarette smoke trumps their right to smoke in my vicinity. Studies show that secondary smoke kills. If they want to continue their nasty habit, by all means they should be able to do so–in the privacy of their own home. Let them close their windows and doors and sit in smoky bliss to their hearts content. Actually, their hearts probably won’t be too content, but that’s beside the point. But what of that precious little girl? Where are her rights?