As a veteran, I used my musical strength and fortunate talent to pursue a music career. I opened for James Brown for 15 years, and also accompanied a Las Vegas show of dancers and cabaret song treatment by giving tribute to the Motown era. But the many years of exposure to second hand smoke in those venues took an irreversible toll on my health.
I have had 4 surgeries since then, mostly relating to second hand smoke exposure. I am determined to spread the word to younger musicians of this hushful health hazard that needs to be taken seriously instead of ignored.
I am working alongside with the City of Augusta, Ga., and Fulton County's 'Breathe Easy Campaign,' in an effort to bring awareness to this topic. I didn’t know second hand smoke could cause such damage to one's body. I am no longer able to sing lead vocals, but instead, I sing background. This will not stop me from sharing my story and the knowledge of how devastating second hand smoke can be.
What second hand smoke takes away can never be replaced. It has robbed me of a gift and talent that I use to earn a living. After all, there is no constitutional right to smoke in America.
- As written by Tony Howard, originally published in 2013.