Stop infringing on smokers’ rights

Give smokers a break. Don’t trample on their right to one of life’s simple pleasures.

I am aware of the dangers of first- and secondhand smoke, as are most people today. There is no denying that there are negative effects of smoking. Having said that, I must respond to an Oct. 19 letter to the editor titled “A smoking courtesy.”

I was enraged at reading this. I agree that people should not smoke indoors, in enclosed areas, within 25 feet of entrances, around children or around people who cannot avoid the smoke. But there must be a point where we let smokers be. Smokers are aware of the dangers of smoking. They are not only publicized all across the media, through commercials, advertisements and groups focused on explaining their dangers, but smokers are now also ostracized and even scorned by a large group of society. Smokers see all these things and still choose to smoke, and everyone should respect that. Whether someone smokes or not is their choice and it only concerns them and his or her loved ones.

So let’s stop this attack and discrimination of smokers. A little word of advice: Continuing to put pressure or “reminding” smokers of where they should or should not smoke will hardly ever get a positive response. To keep pounding on a group that is already being pounded on will never be met with positive eyes by the receiving group, no matter who it is. As the letter to the editor pointed out, the smoking areas are already highly limited and most people respect these. Now people want to even lessen their space by telling them where exactly they are allowed to stand.

Why don’t we make smoking boxes? Draw a 3-foot-by-3-foot lined area where smokers are allowed to stand. If they have even a foot out of the line, they will be ticketed. Secondhand smoking has been proved to cause serious illnesses, some of which can lead to death. But alcohol, drugs, sexually transmitted diseases, pollutants that abound in urban areas, the sun and many other things also cause serious illnesses and even death.

What is the beef with smokers? If you want to avoid secondhand smoking, then do what you have to do to avoid it. Don’t keep infringing on people’s rights to the point where someone won’t even be able to enjoy a simple pleasure (smokers do consider it such). The letter asked to find a compromise that would allow people to smoke if they wish, while allowing others not to. This is very great, but it is already at the point where smokers have minimal rights. They are the group with less power, and the group that is being controlled and told what to do. How can people ask for even more compromise in favor of nonsmokers if there are hardly any rights left to take away from smokers?

If walking past someone who is smoking is really that big of an issue for you, then I am sure you can come up with plenty of ideas and ways to avoid this.

Like I said, there are many things that kill and cause illnesses in the world, and the common practice is to avoid them when it is in your power. Well, it is in one’s power now that smokers have such restricted rights. So do just that, avoid smoke.

If inhaling the minimal amounts of smoke that one could possibly inhale from walking past someone smoking is enough to worry one this much, then I suggest that one start to think about all the other things in life that kill that can’t be avoided. One will find that there are too many to even count. Sometimes it is not worth it to worry too much about such things.

Emma Skallman is a University student. Please send comments to [email protected]