I'm so happy about the smoking ban that looks like it's coming to Baltimore by 2008. The City Council just passed something or other about it, and, listening to Sheila Dixon now, it sounds like it will go through.
I was hanging out with my friend Marcia over the weekend. She's a chain smoker - literally four cigarettes in twenty minutes - and is one of those who says, "You know, I just don't like the government legislating this kind of thing. Leave it up to the businesses. Smoking is legal, so it should be allowed that bar-owners can have smokers smoke there."
I'm sympathetic to this, but it doesn't convince me. I respect her right as a smoker, but why does that right supercede my right to clean air that won't cause me red, dry eyes, coughing, and, possible, cancer? I guess the option for me is just not to go out. Or go to a coffeeshop. Or Red Maple, the only non-smoking bar I know of in Baltimore, where you can't even go in wearing a t-shirt. But these options seem like putting me way more out of my way than the minority smoker who is causing the disruption of clean, healthy air. Again, why is the smoker's rights more important than mine? Or, for that matter, the workers'?
And I also don't buy the hurt business argument. In Boston, the smoking ban has helped business. I think it would do the same here.
Again, I'm usually pretty much all about government's hands off, except in this case, where the greater public health is affected.
But this is all justifying it in a legal/ethical sense. I like to have an objective argument. But the reason I'm looking forward to the ban is because, well, I hate smoking. I even freely admit I'm probably more anti-smoking than most. I grew up with smokers, and hate it. My mother smoked like a chimney and I used to hide her cigarettes so she couldn't do it anymore. It never worked. When I see a mother in a car smoking with her kids in there, it makes my blood boil because that was me, 25 years ago. I could never date anyone who smokes. I just can't stand it that much. The smell is irritating and makes my eyes hurt. So I'm not the most unbiased observer of this. But I definitely look forward to what might happen if this ban would happen.
No more having to leave early because my eyes hurt. No more sore throat when I wake up. No more smoky clothes that sometimes require a dry cleaner. No more meals interrupted by that particular rudeness.
Now I have more to look forward to in 2008 than the exit of George W. Bush from office.
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