Friday, January 23, 2015

Breathe easy

New Orleans is perhaps the last place I expected this to happen, but good.

Secondhand smoke is a very real health menace and no one should have to be subjected to it just to make a living. And from a business standpoint, a ban opens up your establishment more to nonsmokers, who are the majority. Since smoking bans have become the norm, I've visited many places I otherwise would have avoided, and many of my friends who don't smoke have done the same.

Yes, there are times when nonsmokers subject themselves voluntarily to a smoky atmosphere. But not a single person should ever do so as a contingency of employment or otherwise because they have no other options available to them. Smoking is an intrusive habit that can harm others — and even if it didn't, it's about the most disgusting smell to endure both in your nose and on your clothes.

I live near a cluster of casinos, which I don't visit often. But when I do, I'm struck — literally struck — by the smoke in them. Most of them still permit smoking in the gaming areas. And it doesn't matter if the lighting up is light or if the place is an ashtray — it's mentally jarring to sniff that in a public place anymore. I detect it even in the slightest concentration. And yet, I realize that just a few years ago, nearly every place I went reeked of that odor. I didn't always notice it, but it was there. Who knows what effect that had on me and on so many others? 

There are still places smokers can be and nicotine alternatives exist. E-cigs are still a gray area. (Personally, I prefer being near e-cigs to real ones, but prefer fresh air to e-cigs. Also, the jury's still out on e-cigs' health consequences. And the vapor looks real enough to potentially cause a problem.) In any case, there's no justification for allowing smoking indoors.

Smoking might be an addiction, but it's also a choice. If the decision is between limiting nonsmoking activity and smoking activity, I'd choose to limit the one that fouls up other people's spaces with deadly carcinogens. I'm quirky like that.

1 comment:

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