Friday, January 04, 2008

A family that dines together, smokes together


I don't have any stats to back me up, but I bet that the number of 4-year-olds in Japan with emphysema is astronomical when compared to children in other developed nations.
If you smoke in your kid's face at home that's your business. I still call that child abuse, but you're fortunate in that most governments don't agree with me.
But when you drag your two-year-old into the smoking section of a fast-food restaurant and puff smoke in her face for half an hour, then you might as well be one of those over-worked and drunk fathers who kicks his kid in public because he didn't get a good grade in his history class.

I'm complaining about parents right now, but it's a grandmother that shocked me today. McDonald's, as so often is the case in Japan, has a smoking section that isn't actually partitioned off from the non-smoking area (ie. the entire restaurant sometimes smells like it's a part of the smoking area). The picture to the right was taken with my camera-phone, hence the lack of clarity and bad lighting, but it shows a grandmother (facing the camera, cigarette in left hand) smoking in her granddaughter's face.

Of course, the mother is equally to blame here because she's allowing her little girl to be subjected to this. I was just passing through and didn't want to stick around and check, but I noticed two ashtrays on that tiny table, so I wouldn't be surprised if the mother (back to the camera) was smoking at the same time.

I know I'm shoveling forth a steaming pile of righteous indignation right now (and I've done it before), but let's think in practical terms for a moment. How many seconds off the little girls 200m will this equal when she goes to school in three years time? The school sports festival, while normally the highlight of the academic year, becomes the most embarrassing weekend of the child's life. Not that the 200m is the most important event at the sports festival. Tug-of-war is where the youngster's nicotine addiction could really do her in.

But then again, with this much infantile (pun intended) secondhand smoking going on, she'll probably finish in the middle of the pack.


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