Missouri has the ninth-highest smoking rate in the nation, according to the Missouri Department of Health.

Missouri has the ninth-highest smoking rate in the nation, according to the Missouri Department of Health.

Twenty-five percent of adults and more than 18 percent of high school students in Missouri smoke.

Smoking rates are also high among pregnant women in Missouri. One of every six pregnant women smokes, a rate 64 percent higher than the national average.

We all know what the potential health hazards are for people who smoke.

And second-hand smoke is no better.

According to the Center for Disease Control, secondhand smoke in children causes ear infections, more frequent and severe asthma attacks, respiratory symptoms (e.g., coughing, sneezing, shortness of breath), respiratory infections (i.e., bronchitis, pneumonia), and a greater risk for sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).

In adults who have never smoked, secondhand smoke can cause heart disease and/or lung cancer.

My deepest kudos, thanks, regards, respect and congratulations to all of the bars and restaurants that have implemented smoking bans in the last couple of years.

Osage Beach watering holes have done the best of any lake community in establishing smoking bans.

They have done so tactfully by creating smoking areas outside their facilities or away from the non-smokers.

Let's hope others do the same.

The city of Osage Beach jumped into the smoking ban fray a couple of years ago when it hosted a Public Forum on the issue, which was polarizing not only among the public but even on the board of aldermen.

In the end, however, bar and restaurant owners have seen the light.

Whether they've been motivated by their health-minded consciences or by rumors of eventual statewide smoking bans, their actions deserve praise.

I grew up with parents who smoked, never giving any consideration to my sister and me who sat in the back seat of the car with our windows cracked.

They smoked in the house, they smoked in restaurants, they smoked wherever the nicotine addiction provoked them.

My dad was the first to quit in his 40s, and my mom did in her 60s when her granddaughter Kelly chided her for the nasty habit.

Thankfully, neither my sister nor I have any lasting health issues.

Time will tell, however.

I've never smoked; never even tried it.

My dad used to say there's nothing worse than a reformed smoker. And a non-smoker, too.

Cancer is in my genes.

Everyone on my mom's side died of cancer – her parents, her sister and ultimately her.

It's personal to me. And it should be personal to everyone.

Let's hope other bars and restaurants around the lake begin to take it personally as well.

And not because it might cost them a customer.