Airing OutWritten by Ray Barry | | firstname.lastname@example.org
I quit smoking about 2 years ago and I gotta tell you — I don’t miss it at all. Matter of fact, I find myself almost nauseated by the smell of it now; more than enough incentive to stay smoke-free down the road here.
But that’s just me.
We all know that smoking is terrible for you, so I’ll spare you the grim statistics. I’m not saying that smoking isn’t bad. I’m not saying that at all. Health-wise, it is; there’s no doubt. But what I AM saying, however, is that it’s terrible the way we’re treating smokers these days. And it seems it’s only going to get worse.
See, first, smoking was banned inside buildings. And I can dig that, for the most part. Kids, or really any non-smoker, should not be forcibly exposed to a known carcinogen. So banning smoking in restaurants, ballparks, or any “family-oriented” place makes a good deal of sense to me.
What has NEVER made sense to me, though, is outlawing smoking in bars. Bars serve ALCOHOL: a substance known to cause severe health problems; a substance responsible for over 100,000 deaths each year. Aside from the latest research concluding how ‘a glass of wine a day can help ward off cancer’ (an article I swear they publish every 3-4 months), alcohol is generally not a substance one would associate with “health”. Telling people they can’t smoke in a bar because of all the “health risks” it poses is like telling a heroin addict at a Chinese OPIUM den, “Hey, you can’t blast-off in here, man — we only SMOKE our morphine in THIS place!” Can you really say one is worse than the other?
But what really gets me is the way smokers are being treated now. Branded with a big, fat Scarlet “S” and shoved out to the sidewalks and parking lots of ‘fine establishments’ everywhere, these guys (and ladies) just can’t seem to catch a break –- because it’s only a matter of time before they lose that “right” altogether.
Bans against outdoor smoking are popping up all across the U.S. People can’t smoke INSIDE, so as you’d expect, they’re taking their habit OUTSIDE — because if you can’t smoke indoors, hmmm … where else can you smoke? And now they’re being told that they can’t even do that. Now the complaint is that they’re exposing people to second-hand smoke as they enter and exit buildings. Now they’re being called ‘an eyesore’ for standing out in front of buildings, the place where the law FORCED them to go in the first place. Now, they’re a nuisance.
I mean, really?
Do you know what’s in the air you’re breathing, right now, as you’re reading this? Any idea how many different types of pollution, how many microscopic particles, how many impurities you’re sucking in at this very moment? And let’s not even get started on what may or may not be in our drinking water. Passing-by a smoker on a sidewalk may stink, but isn’t going to kill you. Not unless they tackle you, hold you down, and exhale smoke into your face for, oh, 10 or 15 years. Then, of course, you’re doomed.
So what’s the real issue here? Is it because the smell is offensive? Well, I know a couple of European dudes that opted-out of the deodorant requirement (sorry, Slavco) -– does that mean we should deport them on the grounds of having bad b.o.?
The real issue is that these folks are being discriminated against — and the reality of it is that it’s happening because people simply don’t like them. Eliminating smokers from lighting up around our kids and baking-out whatever building we’re in was a good idea. But we’ve gone too far. Not only are we infringing on people’s rights, we’re making them outcasts. And just how far are we going to push them? They can’t stand in front of a building and they’re being told to move from sidewalks, so now they’re being roped off in designated “smoking zones” in parking lots (an unnecessary physical-safety risk, might I add). Now they’re in the parking lot, standing in bitter 10-degree Ohio weather, and people are actually saying ‘uggh, you mean I still have to LOOK at them smoke?’
Even job interviewers are joining in. “Hmm, I see you have your Master’s in marketing, you graduated with honors — wow, impressive — and let’s see, you … oh … you smoke? Well, I’m sorry, Mr. Smoker, but we just don’t want your kind around here.” Sounds like discrimination to me.
I don’t know how long from now, exactly, but at the rate we’re headed smoking will be outlawed in the U.S. before you know it. And it’ll be enforced by laws and sanctions from our very own government — the same government that taxed and regulated and capitalized on tobacco sales for years and years and years. The same government that in all likelihood possessed knowledge that tobacco companies were spending millions of dollars researching ways to further HOOK people on their product and reel in new smokers of all age and demographic.
The same government that declared that “…all men are created equal …”
Right … unless, of course, they smoke.