I stated in my last entry that I applaud George Clooney's choice in Good Night and Good Luck to accurately portray Edward R. Murrow and his associates as they were - cigarettes and all - rather than bow to anti-smoking lobbyists who would rather not have smoking "glamourized" on film. Now, that apparently meant to a couple of you that I am a smoker. I'm not. Outside of religious ceremonies, I've never smoked so much as a light menthol filter.
When I was a kid, I watched the original Battlestar Galactica, and Starbuck (played by Dirk Benedict) puffed on cigars with aplomb. Then, in one episode, the Galactica caught fire and Boomer and several other passengers nearly died of smoke inhalation. In the next episode I saw, there was Starbuck again, sucking smoke out of a cigar. I decided then that, cool as Starbuck was, his smoking habit demonstrated that he might not be the shiniest Viper in the landing bay.
So, let's see, Battlestar aired on television when I was about five. Yeah, I don't think I'd read the Surgeon's General warning at that point. I just sort of figured that out on my own.
Now, of course, there is a wealth of evidence to demonstrate to people of any age or intellect that smoking is very, very bad for the human body.
Now am I saying that people who smoke are not very bright?
Yep. That's pretty much what I'm saying. Modern-day smokers are sitting in the back of the proverbial class with the non-helmet-adorned motorcyclists, the non-seatbelt-wearing motorists, and anybody that paid over six bucks to see Anchorman in the movie theater. However, their imprudence ought to be their right, afforded them by the founders of this nation.
Like most rights, however, they end right at the point where their neighbors' begin. For example, I have the right to swing my fists around violently as I please, but my right to do that ends where your right to keep your nose shaped the way it is begins. Likewise, an individual's right to suck burning ash into their lungs ends where my right to breathe clean air begins.
The thing I most remember from civics class in high school was, well, Holly Finchum's penchant for wearing tight-fitting jeans. What I remember secondmost, though, is the phrase "Majority rules; minority rights."
Therefore, I support the ban on smoking in certain public areas, specifically those where people don't have the choice to get away from someone smoking: the DMV, courthouses, etc. I have a friend who is very allergic to cigarette smoke. I believe that, even if a majority of the population wants to smoke wherever they want, it is my friend's right to be able to conduct the necessary business of his life without having to breathe in someone else's expelled airborne ash.
I do not, however, support a government ban on smoking in private establishments. If I or my friend don't want to breathe in smoke, we won't go to smoke-filled bars or restaurants. We certainly won't stand at the front entrance and demand that everyone else stop smoking so that we can come in to the place. We would just go someplace where there is less or no smoke.
Before the ban here in Colorado, my money got spent where smoking was curbed or disallowed altogether by rule of the establishment itself. If one does not exist, it will eventually be created as more and more consumers choose to avoid the smoke.
Now, I know that the smoking ban was a function of the majority, but how many of the people who supported this ban frequented the establishments which would be affected?
The fair thing, I think, would have been to allow the law of supply and demand to work the problem out on its own. If enough people want a smokeless bar as a hang-out, one will be supplied by an entrepreneur who recognizes the demand and the financial benefits to be reaped by fulfilling that need. At the same time, there will still be smoky watering holes for those who stubbornly wish to continue their ill-advised habit. If you, as a smoker, and your friend, as a non-smoker, wish to hang out in the same bar, then you have two options. He can choose to put up with the smoke in your establishment of choice, or you can elect to go to his bar and take periodic trips to the parking lot for a drag or two. If you can't decide, then flip a coin, with the one rule being that, heads or tails, the loser doesn't get to whine.