for the love of a smoking ban in indiana.

I don’t smoke. With the exception of two weeks in college and the occasional cigar—the last of which I smoked more than a year ago—I am happy I never took up the habit. I’ve always found cigarette smoking to be a disgusting, smelly, joyless habit. But if you choose to smoke, it’s cool. Do your thing. Live and let live. But I will always be in favor of smoking bans in places such as bars, restaurants, ball parks, etc.

Spare me the “infringement of rights” argument. State, local and federal governments routinely place restrictions around legal behavior. Just because you are licensed to drive a car doesn’t mean you can drive on sidewalks, exceed speed limits and ignore traffic laws. If you are 21 or over, you may drink alcohol, but you have to adhere to whatever local laws govern you; even if those laws are as absurd as Indiana’s archaic blue laws.

Spare me the “let the business owner decide” argument. Possessing a license to sell a product and employ a staff does not give the sainted business owner carte blanch to flout minimum wage laws, health standards or OSHA regulations.

Give me an example where people are allowed to expel toxins and poisonous, disease-inducing gases into the environment. That is what a person smoking cigarettes does in a bar, or restaurant or a ball park. They are exposing you, me and everyone else to poison.

Precedent aside in states other than Indiana, I look to smokers themselves as a perfect example of why it’s time to ban smoking in bars and other public places. Next time you’re sitting at a traffic light, look around at the other drivers and pick out the smokers. It’s easy to do. They’re the ones sitting in cars with the driver’s side window rolled down (regardless of snow or rain or sleet) with their left arms hanging out the window with a lit cigarette perched between their fingers. The only time the cigarette is in the car is when the driver takes a drag. As soon as he or she is done inhaling, that cigarette-in-hand goes back out the window, as does the secondhand smoke…for all of us to enjoy, I guess. And when that driver is done smoking the cigarette, where does it end up? Bouncing across the pavement. Even smokers themselves don’t want to be around their own cigarette smoke! Yet when we say we don’t either, they call it a right? Yeah, right.

Of course, this example is not each and every smoker in the world. But it occurs often enough to lead to the conclusion that smokers, by and large, have an inflated sense of entitlement about their cancerous habit.

It wouldn’t be a problem with me if:
a) There was no such thing as secondhand smoke
b) Smokers were more conscientious about their surroundings and those who inhabit it
c) Smokers didn’t treat the entire world like their own, personal ashtrays

But all of the above are simply not realistic. And, sadly, neither is expecting the Indiana General Assembly to be bold leaders. I guess, in the interim, we are stuck dodging clouds of poison in the air and hurled cigarette butts on the highway. As long as your “right” to pollute with impunity goes unfettered, eh, smokers?

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Filed under Indiana, Indiana General Assembly, opinion

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