A Debate has Two Sides – This Doesn’t Qualify

June 16th, 2007

The Amherst Bulletin published a letter (presumably by a non-smoker) who pitied the poor smokers who were becoming increasingly restricted in the number of venues in which they could satisfy their nicotine cravings. Non-smokers seeking to preserve their air quality were indicted by this party for turning smokers into a new class of persons experiencing discrimination. I beg to differ and cannot see how this is even a matter open to debate with all that is known about the effects of cigarette smoke. Anyone recall Phillip Morris’ 2001 debacle with the Czech Republic? They advised the president that his government would benefit from the premature deaths of smokers through cost savings on pensions, housing and medical care. Therefore, no bans on smoking in public places should be legislated.

You know how hard it is to support those pesky, elderly people.

Anyway, the paper published my response. . .



Should residences have smoke-free buffer zones?

Published on June 15, 2007

To the Bulletin: Kudos to Amherst residents who are attempting to guarantee smoke-free buffer zones around their residences.

The reader who pitied smokers “forced” to stand out in the “howling winds” of winter to assuage their need for a nicotine “fix” fails to acknowledge the habit that nonsmokers have to gratify. They must breathe in and out under all circumstances.

I know of no other addiction that requires bystanders to “mainline” the harmful substance along with the abuser. Whether from cigarettes or wood-burning sources, smoke is a serious respiratory irritant. Tobacco smoke additionally contains more than 400 different chemicals which leave a toxic legacy in fabrics, wood, sheet rock and all permeable surfaces. Walls, windows and doors are not effective barriers to the thin gaseous byproducts of a burning cigarette.

Walking through a gauntlet of smokers in front of the workplace, or standing outside one’s apartment in a parking lot, still leads to severe discomfort and/or outright illness for many. There are more than 20 million asthmatics in this country, many of whom would go jobless if smoking was still permitted in workplaces. Many are unnecessarily forced into a lifetime of use of harmful, expensive medications such as bronchodilators and steroids.

It is criminal that this is mainly for the purpose of accommodating the unhealthy needs of others to smoke (or use strong synthetic fragrances, a trigger for more than 70 percent of asthmatics). Many asthmatics are denied affordable apartment housing because smoking is a basically unenforceable clause in a lease.

People determined to indulge in an unhealthy practice at the expense of others are not a “discriminated class of people.” They are an unfortunate group of people who can only benefit from diminishing opportunities to injure themselves, quite literally, at the expense of others.

Barbara Rubin Norwich, Vt

Categories: Amherst Bulletin, Letters, Published

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