Quid Rides? De te Fabula Narratur

What are you laughing at? The joke's on you.

In Defense of Smoking

Posted by Anthony on February 10, 2009

By Anthony J. Aschettino

There is currently a rather large and proactive movement in this country, and in others, dedicated towards the eradication of that most odious of social faux-pas: smoking. Year after year, the anti-smoking activists make gains in their relentless efforts to remove smoking from both the public and, much more worryingly, private spheres.  They have achieved some successes for their work as smoking is now not only seen in a wildly negative light but also has been effectively driven from public with precious few exceptions.

Currently, it is almost impossible to smoke indoors anymore unless one happens to be visiting the local tobacconist. Smokers have been driven to the far reaches of any given property with bans that extend in many cases for twenty-five or more feet from any doorways or, as is the case with for example Johnson and Johnson, a total smoking ban on their property. In the latter case, one is not even permitted to smoke in one’s own car while that car is on J&J property. Lately there has also been legislation passed in California forbidding one from smoking in a car with a minor present.

Aside from the increasingly draconian measure of such laws, the intrusion on private and individual choice is astounding especially in a country such as The United States. Health concerns notwithstanding, it is still a choice that ought to be made by those of legal age who have weighed the consequences and decided that they still wish to engage in such an activity. There are many reasons to be concerned about the direction that such legislation is taking, especially given the precedent being set by such laws.

If individuals are not allowed to smoke in their own cars with a minor (possibly their own child) present, why not increase the scope of that to banning smoking inside one’s own home if there are children present? The means to enforce such a ban are available: there are security systems that can be linked to a central monitoring point, and these same systems can be programmed to sound an alarm if smoke or carbon monoxide detectors sound within the home. Surely laws could be passed to ensure that in all homes that have children, the parents or guardians must subscribe to such a system?

The above is, of course, an invasion of privacy that has not, at least as of yet, been considered seriously by legislators. Yet is speaks volumes that we as a society are not too far from such a potential act when we begin ignoring personal rights in order to placate larger percentages of the population. If a business owner wishes to permit smoking in his establishment, there is no reason why he should be prohibited from doing so: people are not forced to go there, and they can vote their displeasure by seeking elsewhere for their wants. The same, nobody is forced to work in a smoking environment: if one knows that smoking is permitted at a place they seek for employment, they have no more right to then complain than an individual who took a job tending bar at a strip club only to complain that they feel offended by constantly being exposed to near-naked women.

Yes, there are counters to these arguments: should private businesses be able to discriminate then by only allowing Caucasians or Asians for example? An individual does not choose, however, to be Caucasian, Asian, or Black: they do choose to smoke or not, and having chosen such they do not have a right to impose their views on owners who decide to run their shop as they best see fit. Quite the same nobody is arguing that exposure to smoke is good for children, but parents are given free range to expose their children to a wide variety of things that are bad for them such as brainwashing them with religion and forcing certain diets that are unhealthy upon them. Why should smoking stand out as an evil in this case?

At the end of the day, the decision to smoke is one that those of a legal age should consider seriously knowing the health repercussions and social stigma that partaking inflicts upon one. Yet for all that, it is a rich tradition that does have a romantic aspect to it and is a critical part of humanity’s shared heritage. Smokers should neither be ashamed of their indulgence nor should they cease in fighting against those who would try to stop them from their cherished pastime.

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