Over the past 30 years, my band and I have been blessed with many opportunities to sing and perform in venues across the Southeast and internationally – including tours with the Godfather of Soul, James Brown.
Until recently, every club in which we performed allowed smoking. I’ve experienced a number of throat problems, including three surgeries on my vocal cords, which my doctor has attributed partly to my continual exposure to smoking environments – and I don’t even smoke.
Speaking from the entertainers’ point of view, smoking in workplaces has affected me personally – so much so that, when we can, we choose to perform in smoke-free venues. It’s not only an irritant – it also affects my livelihood and my voice.
Everyone does have the right to smoke if they choose to, but we also have the right not to breathe their smoke. So where do we draw the line? Do we put up with it at the risk of losing our livelihoods? Or do we ask people who choose to smoke to just take it outside for a few minutes?
I support a smoke-free ordinance in Augusta, and I invite the public to show their support.