When Michael Wiener was ten years old, he saw a woman in a restaurant blowing cigarette smoke at her baby. It made him angry.
“I thought it was wrong,” he says. “Scientists and doctors have proven that secondhand smoke is as dangerous and deadly as smoking itself.”
Although the fifth-grader had his hands full with school, homework, and other activities, he decided to do something about it. Michael thought that children should sit in the nonsmoking sections of restaurants. In fact, he thought that should be the law!
Michael felt so strongly about it that he wrote an article, entitled “Smoke-Free Childhood,” for the children’s magazine Our Generation. In the article, he said, “In school, we’re taught that the government’s job is to protect those who can’t protect themselves, namely, children. Recently, governments have made an effort to create smoke-free environments in offices, shopping centers, and restaurants. I feel that governments should take these laws a step further.
“I propose a law that requires children under the age of eighteen to be seated in nonsmoking areas of restaurants. That way, children do not inhale secondhand smoke while eating.”
Michael continued to work on his cause. He wrote a letter to Hillary Clinton, and he even pitched the idea on TV during a local medical talk show.
“At first it was hard to speak in front of people, but it got easier,” Michael says. That is a good thing because he was interviewed by a newspaper, radio, and TV reporters. In fact, Michael was featured in an “In a Minute” spot on the USA cable network. The spot played during breaks in the@ “Cartoon Express” show.
Family history has contributed to Michael’s strong feelings about smoking. His father grew up in a home with heavy smokers, and he now has asthma and other respiratory illnesses. Also, Michael’s great-grandfather had emphysema.
According to Michael, kids can make a difference. “It’s important for kids to do something about causes they feel deeply about,” he advises. “People listen to children, sometimes more than to adults.”
Members of the city councils that Michael talked to respected Michael’s decision to take matters into his own hands. “It takes a lot of courage to come and speak to a city council,” said the Mayor of La Quinta, California, John Pena, who referred the matter to state legislators.
Council member Jean Benson told Michael, “I think it’s very important for someone your age to come forward on this before you are affected by secondhand smoke.”
In November 1994, Proposition 188 passed in California, banning smoking in restaurants. Michael hopes other states will follow California’s example. Although he doesn’t think he helped to get the law passed, Michael does feel good about his efforts. He knows he helped draw public attention to the problem of children’s exposure to secondhand smoke.
And Michael, who is now twelve years old, still hopes that “children everywhere can enjoy a smoke-free life!”
Please read this article: 7 How To Quit Smoking Tips That Will Save Your Life. It will take you only one minute but it will save your life!