To the Fort Worth City Council,
I work in several bingo halls in Fort Worth. In these facilities that hold hundreds of people, I have experienced numerous people smoking cigarettes at one time! It’s miserable working in this environment, and after only a few years my health has already been negatively affected.
My doctor diagnosed me with pleuritic inflammation, which affects my ability to breathe. This diagnosis directly relates to the fact that I work in an environment that allows smoking. I will come home some days not able to catch my breath, coughing relentlessly. The worst part is I’ve tried drastic measures like masks, but they are not permitted because they disturb smoking customers. I’ve heard the words, “They think something is wrong with the air when you wear that."
I spend every day after work wheezing and smelling putrid. I have to shower 2-3 times a day just to be able to relax in my own house, hug my wife and kids, or to even sit on my furniture. Even then it makes things I can’t easily wash (like phones, wallets, watches, shoes, and belts) smell horrible. It got to the point that I own double of most pocket items, even expensive ones so that I can be free of the smell in my off time.
What’s also awful is being told, "If you don’t like it then why don’t you quit?” Leaving a good paying job in this economy is not that simple, especially when I had no idea I’d be working in environments that permit smoking and exposed to secondhand smoke until my first day at work. It was too late to take my old job back then. It gives me a feeling of being trapped at this job, smelling horrible, not being able to breathe, and having personal belongings ruined by smoke.
As a health conscious person with a high level of fitness, this is agonizing. I dream of a day when I am fortunate enough to breathe clean air on my job just like many other working people do. I hear pro smokers say smoke-free policies will kill bingo halls' business, but I know of plenty of halls with law-enforced smoke-free policies. Non-smoking policies have not even remotely damaged their business - they are all still making plenty of profits.
Bars will have the same reasoning, but research shows there are plenty of bars that reported an increase in business due to voluntarily non-smoking policies. Non-smokers, like me, are the majority of the population and choose to patronize these businesses again. How can Fort Worth have a project like Blue Zones and still be the only major city that permits smoking indoors? I urge Fort Worth to once and for all, stop allowing working people’s health to be permanently and severely damaged, all for the pastime of a small portion of society.
Concerned Fort Worth Citizen
The author of this letter has requested anonymity to ensure s/he did not face a potential hostile work environment after expressing this opinion. Far too many Fort Worth residents are forced to choose between their health and a paycheck every single day they go to work. It's time to ensure everyone's right to breathe smoke-free air is protected.
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