You Take my Breath Away

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The Department of Health and Human Services has kindly notified me that the inhalers keeping my asthma in check are being dis- continued. DHHS is taking this measure, the notification explains, not because the medication might do me harm, and certainly not for any lack of efficacy.

No, they are being phased out because with every puff they emit a minute quantity of the dreaded chlorofluoro- carbons. While CFCs were phased out of most consumer goods in the mid to late ’90s, in accordance with the Clean Air Act and in the midst of the panic over the ozone hole, asthma inhalers were exempt — I presume because at least one person realized that Clean Air doesn’t do much good when you can’t breathe.

But now that exemption has come to an end, and I will have to find another medication which may not work, which will have new side effects to discover, and which will certainly (and I suspect this is the answer to, Why now?) be more expensive than the generic inhalers I’ve used my entire life. But at least while I’m struggling for breath, unable to take a puff that I know for sure will set me right within ten seconds, I’ll have the comfort of know- ing I’m no longer contributing to an ozone hole that no

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