Wednesday, November 22, 2006

I Want To Be On Your Side ...


Those of us living in Central Illinois just can't escape this year's hot topic. Read the comments under any SJ-R article regarding the new smoking ban and the divisions are unmistakable. On top of that, the comments under this excellent posting at The 11th Hour are sad proof that this issue is bringing out the worst in a lot of people.

Smokers shout that their civil rights are being trampled upon. Bar owners insist they're being persecuted and abandoned. City Counsel members gnash their teeth as they straddle the political fence. And non-smokers? Well, let's be honest ... some of them are pretty self-righteous about winning the battle.

Here's the thing ...

I'm a liberal ... and I want to campaign for smokers rights. I want to get on here and declare that smokers should have the choice to smoke in bars if they want. I really want to say how unfair this ban is ...

But here's the reality of the situation ...

My 65 year old mom loves going out. In the interest of full disclosure, I'll admit that she doesn't go to bars ... but she loves going to riverboat casinos and restaurants. Oh yes ... she loves them so.

Earlier this year, she was diagnosed with emphysema (which, by the way, isn't even called that anymore ... it's now COPD). She smoked for 40 years ... and she takes full responsibility for having done this to herself. She'll tell anyone who asks that this is what smoking does to you ... and no one made her smoke.

One of her favorite places on the planet Earth is up in Peoria. Unfortunately, Par-A-Dice is so unimaginably smoky that she can't go more than once a week. Any more than that and she gets physically sick. I'm not talking about an "I don't feel good" kind of sick ... I'm talking about a scary "I can't breath" kind of sick.

So fine ... people with emphysema should just stay home, right? What about people like me? I've got asthma. It's under control and I only use my inhaler occasionally. My lung condition is not that bad ... and the smoke at Par-A-Dice really bothers me too. So, for me, going to the casino is a special event kind of thing ... just for birthdays and such.

Before you ask, yes ... they have a non-smoking section. It is a small bank of about 4 rows of machines ... sitting in the middle of the 3rd floor. Wrap your head around that. It about as logical as putting a book inside an aquarium and declaring the space around it the "dry section."

I'm not naive. Even if there was a state-wide smoking ban, it would never cover casinos ... but damn ... you can't imagine how nice it would be to go out and not have to use my inhaler. Honestly, I don't go to bars ... but I can tell you how nice it is to be in a restaurant and not have smoke drifting over my table.

So I'm conflicted. The liberal in me screams that I don't have the right to tell you not to smoke in a bar ... or a bowling alley ... or anywhere else for that matter.

But the realist in me knows that your smoking doesn't just affect you. In an enclosed building, the cigarette smoke saturates the air ... and that air gets harder and harder to breath over time.

I don't want anyone to lose their business over this. But damn, people ... we have to look at the big picture. Washington State has the nation's strictest statewide smoking ban. New York enacted a statewide smoking ban in 2003. California and Delaware have stringent indoor smoking prohibitions.

Did every bar and bowling alley in Washington close? Did every alcoholic in New York say, "Well, screw this ... I guess I'll just hit that AA meeting now?" Delaware is small ... did every smoker drive over the state line to light up in Maryland?

So to all the smokers in Springfield ... I'm sorry. I want to be on your side. But I'm not.

Smoke smoke smoke that cigarette
Puff puff puff and if you smoke yourself to death
Tell St Peter at the Golden Gate
That you hate to make him wait
But you just gotta have another cigarette

Jimmy Dean - Smoke Smoke Smoke (That Cigarette)

15 comments:

  1. Anonymous11:31 AM

    Non smokers outnumber smokers 3 to 1; smokers outnumber asthmatics 1000 to 1. So let's make smokers stay home and turn the restaurants and bars over to asmathics and see what happens.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I don't understand your point, anonymous ...

    If your statistics are correct and non-smokers outnumber smokers 3 to 1, why is there even a debate? Non-smokers win, right?

    Unfortunately for us asthmatics ... your statistics are dead wrong. I did a little light research and here's what I found:

    There are 50 million smokers in the United States. - Link: http://www.thegooddoctor1.com/copd/copd.html

    There are 15 million people with asthma in the United States. - Link: http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/about/naepp/naep_pd.htm

    The entire population of the United States is 295 million. Link: https://www.cia.gov/cia/publications/factbook/index.html

    Now ... if my math is correct ... and I'm admitting I'm a piss poor at mathematics ... that means that 5% of all Americans are asthmatics.

    This also means that 16% of all Americans are smokers. That's on a downward trend, by the way ... since in 2004 a whopping 22% of the population smoked. Here's your link to that one: http://www.unitedhealthfoundation.org/shr2004/components/smoking.html

    Now ... 16% of the population is admittedly more than 5% ... but 5% STILL represents fifteen MILLION people with asthma.

    So, not to be harsh ... but 84% of the population doesn't smoke ... and I'm tired of breathing the air from the 16% that does.

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  3. Anonymous2:10 PM

    Dearest Thirtywhat:

    You seem to believe that the tobacco war is your personal idea. It was the idea of the World Health
    Organization and they don't give a damn whether
    you agree or disagree. If they can't get enough suckers like yourself to go along willingly, they'll dictate it. And they won't stop with smoking.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Alrighty, anonymous ... this is the last comment I'm going to respond to ... so yell your little heart out because you'll be yelling into a void.

    No, I don't think the tobacco war is my personal idea ... and I have no idea where you came up with that premise. I guess some individuals just like to argue.

    People who have asthma don't need ANYONE, let alone the World Health Organization, to tell us that smoking is harmful. When I'm around someone who smokes ... I have an attack. And you know ... whatever. In the past I've avoided bars and places with smoky air ... and that's been alright.

    But you don't seem to want to acknowledge that Washington state, Delaware, New York and California all have similar bans ... and none of them are devoid of culture or entertainment. There will be a shift in the business model ... and the world WILL keep on turning.

    After you're done lobbying the City Council to remove the smoking ban, why don't you lobby to bring back leaf burning in Springfield? After all ... if we're into burning leaves, let's really burn leaves.

    Peace

    ReplyDelete
  5. Anonymous3:07 PM

    OK,Thirtywhat, go ahead and spoil my fun. Don't respond.

    I, too, am an asthmatic--I'm allergic to dust mites not tobacco smoke, so I stay away from dust mites.If I was allergic to smoke I'd stay away from that too.
    I wouldn't have the unmitigated balls to try to force the next man to quit smoking.

    My point is that people like you and I have nothing to say about political matters. They're decided at the
    global level by corrupt bastards who don't care what the peons think.

    ReplyDelete
  6. nancy3:47 PM

    Thirty What

    May I? Since you wisely decided not to respond to Anonymous?

    Anonymous:

    If local politics isn't at play here, in terms of serving a constituency, why haven't the global corrupt bastards that caused this smoking ban in Sprinfield taken it to all of Sangamon County, and better yet, the whole state? I would think by virtue of being global corrupt bastards (heretofore: GCB), they wouldn't need to spread out the timing of the bans, they could just enact a country-wide one at their GCB whim.

    Your stats and ratios about smokers vs. nonsmokers vs. asthmatics are interesting, though I think Thirty What's carry more weight (don't ever refer to her as having unmitigated balls again. Hers are quite mitigated.) My question though, is where on earth do you go where dust mites are not present? And where do you want people who are allergic to smoke to go? Smoking is still allowed on the streets of Springfield, bastion of freedom that it is. And in the parks. And in the fairgrounds. And at ball games.

    It doesn't hurt you to NOT SMOKE at a bar or restaurant. It in fact, is better for you. But smoke can adversely affect the health of others. So who's being selfish?

    ReplyDelete
  7. Anonymous4:20 PM

    Nancy, I would imagine You're as much fun to argue with as Thirtywhat. You're just as ignorant and self righteous.
    You can find out all about the tobacco fraud and global dictators and health nazis by logging on to
    FORCES INTERNATIONAL.

    I would advise you not to believe a goddam thing you hear on the boob tube, but it doesn't matter.You don't have a goddam thing to say about politics, nor do I. You have one worthless vote and mine will cancel yours.

    And I'll be sure to consult the likes of you as to what's good for me.

    ReplyDelete
  8. nancy6:16 PM

    Anonymous
    (That feels so impersonal, what with you feeling comfortable enough to insult me as being ignorant and self-righteous and all. Could I call you Anti-Nancy?)

    It's clear that you feel strongly about your position and believe it or not, I respect that. I am not under the delusion that we live under a perfect system and that greater forces don't exist than those whom we elect. They generally bankroll those whom we elect.

    However, that the smoking ban is some sort of vendetta....I don't know. Against what or whom? I mean seriously, if there are global efforts at work here, trying to convert suckers like you suggest, wouldn't it behoove them to let the masses have their vices? Keep 'em happily puffing away while they continue their evil deeds without all the attention? You suggest that they won't stop with smoking bans. So what's next? Mandatory carbon monoxide detectors in homes? Those bastards.

    It's important to not be in denial, or to abjectly refute generally accepted medical research, all in the name of protecting your right to damage your body or somebody else's wherever and whenever you please. Despite warnings that alcohol consumption is bad for you, I still partake. I do however, abide by the rules that have been set up for the greater good: no drinking and driving, public drunkedness, contributing to the delinquency of a minor, open container in a vehicle. I understand the limits to my right to consume alcohol. In many ways it all works out evenly.

    Bars: no smoking, but drinking
    Cars: no drinking, but smoking
    Restaurants: no smoking, but drinking
    Public streets: no drinking, but smoking
    Legal age to smoke: 18
    Legal age to drink: 21

    It's called being a responsible citizen and it's not that bad.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Thirtywhat,

    The effects of smoking go beyond asthma. The cost of smoking to the U.S. economy is in the billions.

    No one is busting into people's homes, and arresting people for smoking.

    What we are doing is creating a society in which people can gather without having to breath air poisoned by toxic chemicals.

    Previous generations lived in a time in which the link between smoking, and health wasn't recognized, or full understood.

    Today the tobacco industry advertises that there are no safe cigarettes as a last ditch attempt to indemnify themselves against lawsuits from the next generation of smokers who claim they didn't know smoking was perfectly safe.

    The tobacco industry is selling poison, and they admit it.

    If this were poisoned food, and it was killing a half million americans a year would we permit it?

    No.

    It's not how many people have asthma, it's also all those people who don't want to breath poison, and risk getting cancer, and all the other diseases which smokers allow themselves to get - as a tradeoff to feed their drug addiction.

    Framed this way, the majority of people in this country don't want to die early just because some drug addict is polluting the air they breath.

    Also, the U.S. isn't a pure democracy. The constitution is framed around protecting minority rights, and so it only a minority of people didn't want to have to breath someone else poisoned air while in a public facility they should not have to do so, and the government has an obligation to defend that minority.

    And please anonymous commentors - smoking doesn't make a person a minority in the sense of rights because smoking is an activity which if done properly would only kill the smoker, but what we are considering here is the effect that smokers are having upon non-smokers against their will, and upon society over all.

    It's debates like these that tend to make me want to reconsider, and advocate a ban on smoking - just make it illegal, and end this hideous, and evil behaviour before it infects the next generation.

    JP

    ReplyDelete
  10. nancy6:53 PM

    Perfectly stated, JP.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Nancy,

    Thanks, your comments were most interesting too.

    JP

    ReplyDelete
  12. Anonymous7:36 AM

    Nancy, I didn't want you to REMAIN ignorant--that's why I referred you to Forces International to get smart about the tobacco war. Maybe you have more fun with your boob tube generated prejudices.

    At any rate, the tobacco war is a total fraud designed to allow international drug companies to
    replace tobacco with prescription drugs at ten prices. If they get away with it, their profits will increase exponentially and the'yll rule the world including you.

    You have nothing to gain by their success or nothing to say about it, but you don't have to go around making a punching bag of smokers for the fun of it.

    As for jeromeprophet, he's puking propaganda taken directly from the boob tube , which is controlled by drug companies and their incessant commercials. He thinks he's smart.

    ReplyDelete
  13. nancy8:23 AM

    Happy Thanksgiving Anonymous!!

    I hope you're not operating under the delusion that simply because your computer screen is smaller than my tv screen, you're not being fed propoganda!

    For your information, I take very little of what I see on tv and apply it to my views on anything. I try to use diverse sources and my brain.

    I resent your remark that I am using smokers as a punching bag. I have nothing but pity for anyone addicted to any type of drug. You speak in hyperbole and out of a sense of paranoia which isn't conducive to a meaningful discussion. I'm going the route of this blog's host and bowing out of this.

    Have a nice day.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Anonymous9:00 AM

    Oh, Nancy! You're emulating Thirtywhat and giving me the silent treatment! Oh,well.

    Winston Churchill once said that nobody's mind is
    changed by rational discussion because personal beliefs are based on emotion. I can only be glad that you don't have any political power.

    ReplyDelete
  15. I admire 30, Nancy and JP for their courage under fire from anonymous, for their tact and their maturity.

    I, on the other hand anonymous, lack tact and maturity. It is easy to call people names under the cloak of anonymity, to insult their intelligence, etc. It has been my experience, however, that those who favor anonymity are often ball-less cowards or are idiots that are afraid of being outed. I pause in contemplation of which category you fit...

    Wow, quoting PM Churchill (that's Prime Minister if you did not know already)...you must be smart! You're use of his quote is laughable..."nobody's mind is changed by rational discussion because personal beliefs are based on emotion." Who is the one who resorted to name calling and insults? 30? Nancy? JP? No, it seems to me that they were trying to have a rational discourse with a chimp who came armed only with stats and info who suited his/her own cause. When they took you to task, you threw a tantrum.

    You mention how you are glad that Nancy does not have any political power...and what, you are the answer? I would hate to see you with any political power...would you have a policy of insulting someone if they did not agree with you?

    You're rants are just what Nancy declared them to be, full of paranoid hyperbole. Instead of debating stats, etc. you resorted to bullshit. God you are a waste. I sure hope the dustmites don't get ya. Did you know, according to stats, that dustmites are everywhere...just because you may avoid dust doesn't necessarily mean you won't run into those nasty little critters. Ooooh the dustmites are a commin! They can't be seen by the naked eye and are everywhere....good night, sleep tight and dont let the dust mites bite...yeee haaaw!

    ReplyDelete