Thursday, June 09, 2005

Smoke Scream

"You cannot subvert your neighbor's rights without striking a dangerous blow at your own." Carl Schurz

Has anybody got a cigarette? All this talk about smoking has me jonesing for one after 22 years off the pack-a-day weed habit.

Let's be clear. I'm not pro-smoking. I'm not antismoking. I am, as in virtually all things, in favor of CHOICE.

You can smoke in our house. But not in the bedrooms and not if it really distresses another guest -- for non political reasons. We have ceiling fans and exhaust fans and windows we can open. Our house doesn't smell like smoke. And frankly, when my husband's in the mood to cook fish, I wish it did.

I've even been known to have a cigarette or two myself, say at a party. Usually outside so the smoke doesn't permeate my clothes. Then nada for months. Drives people nuts that I can take it or leave it, but I'm like that.

Here's the thing, though. If you gave me a cigarette and I lit it up, I might be in line for a Stupid Award, but I wouldn't be breaking any laws. Yet. And I shouldn't be breaking any laws. Ever.

Tobacco is legal. Just like alcohol is legal. They're both taxed and regulated and bureaucratically ordinanced out the wazoo. But unless their production is made illegal, their consumption should not be. Period.

I don't like to inhale other people's smoke while I'm eating -- or when I'm breathing, for that matter. It's not so much the smoke, but the fact that people I don't know are spewing everything from their lungs (and presumably their immune systems) rather forcefully toward my face. It's as if they're spitting on me. Can you imagine if everybody walked around-without cigarettes-just taking deep breaths and blowing huge puffs of internal effluvia in each other's faces?

Personally, I'd like to ban coughing and sneezing in airplanes and movie theaters -- that can be just as dangerous to my health. And by the way, I have no problem with a smoking ban in airplanes, or offices, hospitals and public buildings, all of which people have no choice but to enter. But ban smoking in retail establishments like bars and restaurants? No way.

It's been said before, but I guess I need to say it again: If you don't like it, go somewhere else! That's what Free Enterprise is all about. Somebody offers goods or services which customers choose to purchase. Or not. We've had this discussion ad nauseam about pornography. And profanity. And practically everything else under the sun. Change the channel, don't buy the book, don't see the movie. And don't patronize restaurants that allow smoking. That's your right as a consumer.

And by the way, the Bill of Rights doesn't say free speech, people, it says Freedom of Expression. There will always be something some people do that other people don't like -- but that's what a free society is all about. If it were up to many radical Evangelical Christians, or racists, or anti-Semites, a lot more than cigarettes would be banned ... and burned.

One last point: If you're going to huff and puff about the effects of second hand smoke, have a chat with any of the hundreds of thousands of people who lost loved ones to drunk drivers and alcohol-related illnesses this year.

A lot of things in this world are bad for people -- including some other people. And anybody who tries to tell everybody else what to say or read or eat or drink or think-or even smoke-is very bad for all of us.

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Blogger MacManus said...

I totally agree with you. I am a 20 a day smoker and over here in New Zealand it is getting to the stage where they are starting to infringe on human rights. The tax on cigarettes over here has gone up around 300% in the last 10 years(along with inflation)with claims that they will start to go up from 1st Jan 06 $4 a packet per year...There is no way all of this tax will be used to fund the health system to care for sick smokers...its an easy way for the goverment to top up their budget...preying on addiction. They have also just banned smoking in bars and public areas. I dont mind this so much, but I do feel sorry for the bar owners who have lost a lot of business as people would rather stay at home and drink (at cheaper rates) and smoke to their hearts content. My point is that an establishment owner should have the right to choose whether or not their own property is smoke free. I think the numbers of smoking/non-smoking bars would balance out and everyone would be happy.

10:02 PM  
Blogger MacManus said...

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10:02 PM  

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