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Janesville man pleased with smoking ban, but it's too late to save him

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ROCHELLE B. BIRKELO
June 4, 2009
— Duke Seifried said the statewide smoking ban is too late for him, but he's glad the law will protect others from second-hand smoke.

Seifried has never puffed a cigarette, but he suffers from a lung condition mostly found in smokers.


"I have never, ever once even smoked a regular cigarette or anything like that," said the 73-year-old Janesville man.


He was diagnosed in April with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, a disease that results in the lungs becoming filled with fibrous tissue.


Seifried's doctors—a pulmonologist from Janesville and another from Madison—questioned him closely about smoking. They learned that he doesn't smoke but has spent six days a week over the last six decades performing in smoky venues and inhaling second-hand smoke.


"Before there was smoke removal or smoke abatement equipment, I played in restaurants and supper clubs where the smoke was so blue my eyes watered so much I couldn't see the music," Seifried said.


At the time, Seifried didn't realize second-hand smoke was harmful.


"I am an entertainer and musician. That just went with the business. So I could not not work in these places," he said.


But what Seifried can do is be a smoke-free advocate—something he's done for years. In addition to contacting members of Congress and the state Legislature as a member of the Rock County Youth2Youth coalition, his band has played at the Bert Blain American Heart Walk for 10 years.


"The real message is second-hand smoke kills, and we have not accepted that fact. I'm a perfect example of it, so I wish that this smoking situation would cease."


Smoking will be prohibited in most Wisconsin bars, restaurants and workplaces starting July 5, 2010.


Although the legislation comes too late for Seifried's health, he is delighted for others.


"I'm only sorry it's a year away and sorry for all the people who work in restaurants and supper clubs because everybody working in venues where smoking is going on is subject to risk," he said.


Seifried said doctors have no other explanation for his lung diagnosis than second-hand smoke.


"That is their conclusion," he said.


Seifried's lung condition is untreatable.


"It can never get better. It will only get worse. Within the year I will need oxygen on a regular basis," he said.


Because Seifried is too old for a lung transplant, he holds out hope for a pharmaceutical company working on an experimental drug to treat his disease.


Meanwhile, he said, "there is nothing we can do."



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