Monday, January 02, 2006

Smoke 'em if you got 'em

I'm eating up the role of social gadfly today. From my archives, here's another, a Letter to the Editor of the Sentinel-Echo (London, KY) that I submitted back in September, but first, the antecedent letter:

"Don't take away right to smoke in restaurants"

"Dear Editor:

For years I have waited to be able to enjoy a beer or other alcoholic drink with my meals in the London restaurants, and now that I have that choice, your publisher Mr. Sawyers wants to limit my meal enjoyment further by taking away my cigarettes.

It seems he has joined the Arrogant Do-gooders bunch of Lexington by pushing for a smoking ban. He even contends, in his 8/31/05 comments, that persons are better off dining in China than in London. The current smoking section / non-smoking section set-up at most restaurants, where you don't have to breath (sic) my smoke and I don't have to put up with your snooty attitudes is not enough for Mr. Sawyers.

It appears he wants all of us smokers put out on the sidewalk so he can have a seat.

If he likes China so well, let him go there and eat. The Communists enjoy regulating personal freedoms, so he should fit right in.

James Brashear
London, Ky."

And now mine:

"In response to James Brashear's September 21 Letter to the Editor, "Don't take away right to smoke in restaurants":

Ok, let me make sure I follow his reasoning. I am addicted to music. So much so that I listen to it everywhere I go...in my house, my car, walking the dog, wherever. Now when I go out to eat, I like to crank up my boom box after the meal. It relaxes me. Sometimes, people give me dirty looks. They stare, and some even have the nerve to ask me to get rid of my music. I always ask to sit away from other people, yet they still say my music bothers them. Come on now, how can my music bother you people...I'm like 10 feet away! I like it, and I have a right to it, doggone it! People can be so snooty.

Now exchange "music" with "cigarettes". Still make sense?

I've heard this argument over and over again: the big bad government wants to take away your cigarettes. What's next? No smoking in your house? Your car? How about fast food? Chewing with your mouth open? Watching wrestling? Let's invoke communists, Nazis, Satan, et al!

Although smokers' activity may seem to them to be as natural as the sun rising in the east, most non-smokers are not interested in being involuntarily exposed to clouds of toxic chemicals while they're eating. Who walks into a room of total strangers and casually starts putting out a substance that ends up killing half the people who use it? Who gives a passing thought to the asthmatics, the elderly, the kids sitting a couple of tables over? Oh yeah, they're in the non-smoking section. It doesn't bother them.

In short, yes, you have a right to smoke. The rest of us have a right not to."

They never published this, of course. Too controversial I suppose. Small-town newspapers are meek that way. Must be some unwritten rule. Or the fact that a good 40% of the local population is addicted to nicotine.

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