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Prisoner Of Blue Smoke

Jan 12, 2012

This month I celebrate my fourth anniversary as a non-smoker. I used to listen to people talk about how they quit and how long they had been smoke free. On my first day as a newly committed non-smoker I really didn’t believe my quit would last very long.

I couldn’t see many things as a dedicated cigarette smoker. After the toxic blue smoke cleared I saw how extremely disrespectful and selfish I was. My entire life revolved around cigarettes and where I could smoke them!

Children who live with indoor cigarette smokers visit the hospital more often than those of non-smokers. Children who live in homes with smokers have more upper respiratory and ear infections than other children. Many of our children already cough like a cigarette smoker!

I thought it was a fabulous step forward when the voters of South Dakota overwhelmingly voted to ban indoor cigarette smoking. The casinos in Deadwood are no longer filled with cigarette smoke.

But our smoke-filled tribal casinos are still hazardous to our health. Don’t let a designated non-smoking corner in the casino fool you. The smoke from cigarettes in an enclosed building floats everywhere.

Have you heard about third hand smoke? I knew about third hand smoke long before I quit. It is the residual from your cigarette smoke which is left behind inside your homes, offices and vehicles. 

I can see it on the walls and windows of homes where indoor smokers live. It is the yellow film that comes off the inside of your car windows when you clean them. It gets in everything and stays there. 

People tell me they need to quit. Others say they want to quit. There are those of you who say you don’t want to quit. You like smoking. I never liked smoking. I never enjoyed being chained to those cigarettes. I was a prisoner in a cloud of blue smoke. Quitting the cigarettes was one of the hardest things I ever did.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website, “in South Dakota, 17.5% of the adult population (aged 18+ years)—over 106,000 individuals—are current cigarette smokers. Across all states, the prevalence of cigarette smoking among adults ranges from 9.3% to 26.5%.” 

American Indians have the highest rate of cigarette smokers in South Dakota. Nearly half (46.4%) of all cigarette smokers in South Dakota are American Indian people. Children who grow up in a cloud of smoke have a higher chance of becoming adult nicotine addicts. 

I never knew how much cigarette smokers reeked until I quit. Cigarette smokers stink something awful. If you must smoke then do it outside. Designate both your home and vehicle as non-smoking areas. Our children deserve to breathe clear air.


Vi Waln is Sicangu Lakota and an enrolled member of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe. Her columns were awarded first place in the South Dakota Newspaper Association 2010 contest. She can be reached through email at


10:37 am - Fri, January 13 2012
Congratulations Vi....fantastic....
I hope you can inspire others to quit...Not easy...but it can be done.
By now your body, heart and lungs have all made great advances in healing themselves. Again...Nice goin' Grant
02:10 pm - Sat, January 14 2012
Kathy Kramer said:
Congratulations on 4 years smoke free!

I can say, too, that I never knew how badly I reeked of cigarette smoke until I quit and could smell it on other people or walked through the coat room and work and smelled in coming off of their jackets.
07:15 am - Mon, January 16 2012
Ruth said:
It has been 27 years since I quit smoking. I can still vividly remember how difficult it was to quit. Congratulations on being set free from the blue smoke prison!!

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