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Monday, March 20, 2006

Tobacco Mania


The United States is nuts about tobacco. No, I don’t mean that everyone loves the stuff; I mean that hating it has become politically correct, and the manic anti-tobacco fringe has succeeded in making using tobacco in any of its forms taboo.

Now I’m not a big fan of tobacco. I love a good cigar and enjoy one as often as it suits. But I don’t like cigarettes or chewing tobacco or snuff, have never used them and probably never will. I really dislike smelling cigarette smoke when eating, and at other times, too. So, no, I’m not complaining about the anti-tobacco crusade because it affects me negatively, unless they try to outlaw cigars. Then I’ll fight.

I’m not going to try to argue against all the “scientific evidence” about tobacco, either first-hand or second-hand, even though I think much of the “evidence” about second-hand smoke is bogus. I think smoking tobacco, chewing tobacco, or dipping snuff is pretty much harmful to human beings, with the exception of pipe and cigar smoking. Since you don’t inhale pipe and tobacco smoke, and if you smoke in reasonably well ventilated places, I believe the risk from those activities in virtually non-existent.

No, what I’m exercised about is the headlong rush to stamp out tobacco use across the country, ignoring the fact that tobacco is a legal substance in the United States, and people have the right to buy it and use it if they want to. It’s gotten so bad that some places have passed regulations/laws/ordinances against smoking in open places, citing the inconvenience to those who “might” come in contact with smoke as they stroll through the park, or walk down the street.

This is basic demagoguery. Either tobacco is the worst substance known to man, or it isn’t. If it is, then outlaw it. And if you can’t or won’t outlaw it, leave people alone, at least in open areas, to smoke if they want to.

Just as people have the right not to smoke, they have the right not to go places where smokers congregate. In this country not only non-smokers have rights, and it isn’t the government’s job to protect people from every sort of unpleasant encounter they might have. And certainly not to the extent of trampling on people’s right to choose to indulge in a legal activity or for business owners to decide for themselves whether or not they want people to smoke in their establishments.

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2 comments:

Buffalo said...

You're wrong. Only non-smokers have rights.

James Howard Shott said...

So it seems.

Although I do feel the tide beginning to turn. I see people who have been stepped on finally saying "enough, already," and starting to resist the pressure.

You probably won't be pleased to know that many of those are Christians, tired of having some of their traditions trashed; pro-lifers, that also aren't your favorites; and maybe also people who think smokers aren't the worst people on Earth.

I guess the broad view is that political correctness, in whatever way it is manifested, is beginning to fall into disfavor. I think that's a good thing for everyone.