Asthma is a delicate disease

Oklahoman Published: April 28, 2014

Imagine being 9 years old and not being able to go to a playground or stay and play because someone lights up a cigarette. The police can be called but it takes hours for them to show up because it’s a nonurgent call. Also imagine that this same 9-year-old has a life-threatening asthma attack because of the cigarette smoke. Is his life important now?

The smoking violates a longstanding city ordinance in Norman. The violators are endangering the life of the child, just as if the smoker held a weapon and threatened him. He can’t protect his lungs from the irritant and therefore deserves protection from the law and enforcement of the law. But Norman police regard this as not being urgent.

When the police do show up they act dismissive and irritated at the parents for calling. The child’s life was in danger but he is dismissed and left to wonder why he’s less important. His parents wonder why he isn’t as important as any other victim of a crime. If he dies of an asthma attack, will the smoker in the park be charged with negligence? No.

Asthma is a delicate disease that can strike with no notice. Why are his rights not honored? Why does he not get to play? Does he not matter?

Candace Martin, Norman