Doctor favors countywide smoking ban
My name is Dr. Timothy Neitzke. I am an optometric physician practicing and residing in Ottertail County. A couple of weeks ago Ron Anderson stopped me and asked if I would consider testifying before the Otter Tail County Board of Commissioners i...
My name is Dr. Timothy Neitzke. I am an optometric physician practicing and residing in Ottertail County. A couple of weeks ago Ron Anderson stopped me and asked if I would consider testifying before the Otter Tail County Board of Commissioners in favor of the proposed county wide smoking ban in public bars and restaurants. It took but a second to respond favorably to his request as I have several, strong, personal, professional, medical and economic reasons to support this endeavor.
As a child, I was raised in a smoking environment. My mother smoked all her short life until age 63 when she died of lung caner directly associated with her life long habit. During my younger years as a child, I didnt get the opportunity to exercise my right to clean air whether it was in my house, a restaurant or a tightly enclosed automobile. She should have known better. We are for the most part, a well educated society. We shouldnt have to legislatively mandate laws to protect us from the ill effects of second hand smoke, it should instead be self evident.
A cigarette is no less than a legalized addictive drug delivery system. Is it really any different from many of the illegal social drugs in our country today? Because we enjoy the rights and freedoms of democracy, smokers feel that it is their right to enjoy this activity. The problem is that they cant confine the deleterious effects to just themselves, it effects everyone around them. It is complete hypocrisy that our local, state and federal governments condone smoking in view of the obvious health concerns. There exists a huge conflict of interest in this country. No one can deny the health hazard and the impact on the insurance and health care industry. The trade off is the tens of thousands of jobs and the millions of dollars in taxes and wages generated that are associated with the tobacco industry. Who are we trying to kid here? Until we as a society decide to prioritize the health and welfare of Minnesotans and ignore the bureaucracy and politics of big industry, the primary and secondary effects of smoking will continue to plague our society.
As an eye doctor, I see first hand every day the direct effects of primary and secondary smoke in the form of glaucoma, cataracts, macular degeneration, atherosclerotic retinopathy and hypertensive retinopathy. No one can dispute the connection between all of these things. A county wide ban on smoking in public bars and restaurants will be an effective step in the right direction, not by depriving individuals of their rights, but by sending a responsible message to individuals about responsible health care. It will level playing fields for the business owners who voice economic concern. City by city, county by county and state by state, eventually, common sense will prevail. I for one am tired of paying for the ignorance and irresponsibility of society. Its time for us all to become more responsible.
Timothy C. Neitzke, OD
Pres., Minnesota Eyecare Network, Inc.