As mentioned in yesterday's rant, I've been spending a lot of time in downtown Charleston lately, and it's distressing how much horrid tobacco smoke is spewed into the air by the hapless addicts who wander our streets.
On the one hand, I've got slight libertarian leanings, and feel that anyone should be allowed to kill themselves by ingesting poison, if that's what they really want to do. On the other, I feel my right to breath supersedes their right to smoke. I have severe allergies to tobacco, and if I have to breathe too much of the stuff, it makes me very sick. Unlike smokers, I do not choose to be very sick.
Smokers can commit slow suicide if they want, but they shouldn't be allowed to take other people with them. Smoking does just that. Smokers are like suicide bombers. Nobody cares if they want to end their own life, but you have to draw the line at the point where they claim innocent victims. I know that a complete ban on smoking won't work, and I believe in personal freedoms enough that I can't really endorse total prohibition. However, I do have a question that puts the situation into perspective:
Why should smoking be any more legal than sex?
Think about it. Why should smoking, a vile act known to kill people, be any more legal than sex, a natural act that expresses love, or at least intimate human contact? Consenting adults, in the privacy of their own home, can have just about any kind of sex they want. So why shouldn't the same rules be applied to smoking?
Consenting adults, in the privacy of their own home should be able to smoke all they want. They can smoke all night, smoke their brains out, smoke like there's no tomorrow. However, they shouldn't smoke in public, or in front of the kids, or with animals. And smoking while driving is right out! Why is it that smokers, who are addicted to a carcinogen, aren't expected to exert the same amount of self-control that horny and/or perverted people do?
Sure, you'll have thrill seekers who get off on sneaking a quick puff in a stairwell or in the bushes in the park. But if I can't smell their smoke, then it isn't a problem. What bothers me is when I go downtown to meet Melanie for lunch, and I wind up having to move all over Davis Square because the smokers are circling like buzzards. Sometimes, I wind up on the far end of the park, just to get away from the poison.
I don't have a problem with special clubs or restaurants opening up that allow smoking, just as long as they have a warning sign on the door and don't allow minors into the establishment. I find it sort of ridiculous that people can't smoke in a tobacco store. I'm not even suggesting that the tobacco addicts quit cold turkey. All I'm saying is that smoking should be relegated to the privacy of the home. It should be seen as a shameful, dirty act, the same way that Baptists think of sex.
And the next time you see a smoker walking down the street indulging in their habit, imagine that they're walking around with their hand down their pants, indulging in that other habit. Makes you view them a little differently, doesn't it?
Tomorrow's rant: I review the WHCP-TV Newscast with Tom McGee.