I’m one of those people who never smoked. Oh, I tried it in my teens, my cousin and I swiping Parliaments out of the case in her father’s soda fountain where we both worked on weekends. We would lock ourselves in the bathroom and blow smoke out the high little window. In college, I tried again, since most of my sorority sisters smoked. But I still didn’t like it, and I’d rather spend my money on beer anyway. (Back then, a big glass of beer was 10 cents; of course, the beer company was owned by the city’s Democratic machine bosses and so every bar had to carry it. The beer did not exactly taste that great but it did the trick.)
Back to smoking. Maybe it’s that I hate being addicted to anything or anyone. Not even hanging on to things I own. Well, maybe my computer.
My son is a smoker. I hate that and he knows it. I hate it because of what it’s doing to his lungs, his brain. I hate it because his father used to smoke and he’s feeling the effects of it to this day. But my son is an adult with the right to do with his own life and his health as he chooses.
Over on my his weblog, he is assessing the appropriateness of efforts of a Commissioner of the city of Portland, Oregon to institute a public policy that bans public smoking, even on sidewalks.
I left the statement below as a comment on one of his posts.
It seems to me that the public policy debate is very much related to how that public policy affects the health of individuals of that public. Granted, gas fumes are also unhealthy. But that’s another public policy debate issue.
Cigarette smoke is both noxiously harmful and noxiously distasteful to smell. Smokers do get used it it. You can get used to living next to the smell of a garbage dump.
Many health establishments ban people from wearing strong perfumes. The sense of smell is very sensitive in most people, especially non-smokers. Personally, cigarette smoke makes me nauseous and makes my sinuses swell. So does strong perfume. But at least strong perfume is not toxic to lungs. And it doesn’t do damage to brain cells, as nicotine does. And it’s not addictive, either. And it’s easy to embarrass someone wearing such perfume by muttering something about it loud enough for them to hear. Not so, however, with smokers.
There is currently a public “cultural” outcry against smoking by non-smokers for good reasons. Not the least of which are health related. If it takes pushing the empathy button or striking fear into the hearts of those too stubborn and/or addicted to nicotine to break the habit, then I say go for it.
Yes, it should be that anyone who wants to damage themselves by smoking should do it in the privacy of their own homes. That way they don’t wind up being role models for kids and they don’t befoul my air space any more than I already have to deal with.
And if the public pressure gets so bad that they quit, all the better for them. And their families. And the public.
We ban spitting on the sidewalk. And littering. Why not ban public smoking.
It’s bad enough that we’re on opposite ends of the country from each other. Now we’re on opposite ends of a very personal issue.