What’s in an effective New Year’s resolution? Simply put: a solution. Many of us make a list of resolutions. Whether we’re looking to lose weight, spend more time with family, get out of debt or quit smoking, our resolutions are often focused on solving specific problems, issues or concerns.
Oftentimes, our resolutions are centered on meeting our personal needs. But in 2012, what if we could give something that contributes to solving tobacco related concerns in Wisconsin to our community?
By passing the Smoke-free air law on July 5th of 2010, our state’s Tobacco Prevention and Control program made a huge stride in protecting Wisconsinites from the harmful affects of secondhand smoke. But what’s next for building healthier lifestyles in our communities? Creating smoke-free living spaces. The beginning of 2012 is a great time to start embracing smoke-free lifestyles.
Smoke-free living spaces can include homes, cars and even the decisions you make when traveling.
A smoke-free home is healthier, but its benefits go beyond physical wellness. Smoke-free homes smell better, are easier to clean and are easier to sell. Your guest will appreciate your smoke-free home, too, because most people hate being around secondhand smoke period.
But one of the biggest benefits of a smoke-free home is that it makes quitting smoking easier. Indeed, creating a smoke-free living space can truly be a huge step in someone’s cessation process.
While the best way to protect your family from secondhand smoke is to quit, even a smoker can protect those around him.
Anyone can create a smoke-free home, and here’s how. First, you’ll need to remove all smoking paraphernalia. Next, you’ll want to stock up on healthy alternatives to smoking like low calorie or sugar-free gum or sliced fresh fruits or vegetables. Once you’ve set up your smoke-free environment, you’ll want to tell everyone who visits to keep it smoke-free.
Rather than telling everyone individually, post a “Smoke-free Home” sign on your outer doors and within your home.
Have all smokers in the household (including you if you smoke) sign a pledge to not smoke inside your home. Be polite but firm. If people must smoke, make sure they do so outside and away from your home. Thank everyone for helping you keep your home smoke-free, and be sure to let him or her know you are rejecting the tobacco smoke and not them personally.
It is important to note that moving to another room within the house, opening the window or using a fan or filter will not protecting people from secondhand smoke. Secondhand smoke lingers long after the cigarette has been put out, and thirdhand smoke residue remains on your walls, upholstery and floors, so keeping your home smoke-free, even when no one is around is an important step to make.
Creating a smoke-free environment takes time and hard work because you have to get everyone to agree, but keep working towards your goal because you’ll be doing something important.
Not only can you enjoy the benefits of smoke-free environments where you live, work and enjoy entertainment, but you can also enjoy them when you travel. Rent a smoke-free rental car (be sure to request a 100 percent smoke-free vehicle), and ask for a smoke-free hotel room when you book your stay.
Living a smoke-free lifestyle is a great commitment to make to yourself to those you love and to our community. Secondhand smoke truly is a killer. Each year, roughly 750 Wisconsinites die from secondhand smoke, maternal smoking and fires caused by cigarettes.
If you smoke, creating a smoke-free living space is a great way to begin the process of quitting.
So in 2012, give your friends, family and community smoke-free living spaces. But don’t let these lifesaving changes end when the excitement over the New Year wears off. Maintain them for a lifetime.
Kevin Reeder is the divisional social services director for the Salvation Army. Through the Salvation Army, he is implementing the Wisconsin Tobacco Prevention and Poverty Network (WTPPN).