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Differing views on smoking ban:

March 7, 2005

With the smoking ban being considered by the City-County Council, we've begun to hear a lot of talk about rights: smokers' rights, non-smokers' rights, business owners' rights, etc. As proponents of the proposed ordinance attempt to garner increased support from the public, we constantly hear that non-smokers should have the right to breathe air free from the health risks contained in secondhand smoke. If that were truly the issue, this debate would long be over, as most smokers agree 100 percent with the preceding statement.

The non-smoking public already has the right to completely avoid any health risks associated with secondhand smoke. This is a very simple right to exercise. All one must do is choose not to frequent establishments that allow smoking. It's strange that such a simple concept seems difficult to grasp by a large segment of otherwise intelligent adults.

Non-smokers are no more forced to enter a smoking environment than smokers are forced to light up a cigarette. In our society, we value personal freedom and allow people to do things that are bad for them.

Among other things, we allow people to eat fast food, smoke cigarettes, drink alcohol, be lazy, participate in recreational activities that risk physical injury and, drumroll please, frequent establishments that allow smoking! We don't force participation in any of these behaviors, but we don't prohibit it either. It's part of our personal freedom and responsibility.

Thank you for [Bruce Hetrick's] wonderful column in [the Feb. 14 issue].

I'm as touchy on [smoking] as you are. I lost my mother seven years ago to lung cancer. However, she did smoke for most of her adult life. I tell people that smoke now, please let me describe to you the last year of my mother's life, if you think you're going to beat the odds and not get sick. The excruciating pain that no amount of morphine could take away, the dreaded chemotherapy, her hair falling out in my hands as I helped her apply hair color, her bald head covered in Magic Marker to show the technicians where to point some machine. Her begging me not to let her only grandchild come see her, because she didn't want to scare her by seeing Grandma Bettye this way.

I'll say a prayer for your dear wife, and let's hope that our local lawmakers wake up.
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