Don’t snuff out smoking

Is it me, or does it seem like every time we turn around, another study shows that second-hand smoke is harmful? Seriously, though: We get it. Smoking and breathing in second-hand smoke are bad for you. I don’t really know anyone who would say either is good for you.

The commercials drive me crazy too. You’ve probably seen them. There’s one where a 30-something-year-old waitress is working in a smoke-filled restaurant. She is barely able to wait on tables as thick plumes of smoke impede her way. Then, you hear a sweet little girl’s voice pleading for you not to smoke where her mommy works. Am I the only one who wonders why her mom doesn’t just get a job somewhere else?

These commercials, of course, are intended to make smokers feel guilty for smoking in restaurants and other public places. They are propaganda for anti-smoking organizations. Now, these groups should be allowed to voice their opinions just like anyone else. Freedom of expression is their right.

That said, why is it acceptable to take away the rights of people on the opposing side? Smokers should have the right to patronize businesses that allow them to smoke and business owners should have the right to allow patrons to smoke in their businesses. The new smoking ban in Ohio, however, is taking away these rights.

Thank goodness this hasn’t happened in Kentucky – yet. The recent 2006 Clean Air Act passed on Northern Kentucky University’s campus was, at least, a fair compromise. Smokers still get designated areas where they are allowed to smoke on campus. Non-smokers get a smoke-free walkway into class. Everyone wins.

But, Ohio’s ban on smoking in public places and places of employment is absolutely ridiculous. The government has gone too far this time. How is it possible, in the United States of America, that the government can tell business owners that they are not allowed to let anyone smoke in their establishments?

Granted, the National Institute of Health said in the 2006 Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, that smoking is one of the major causes of preventable deaths. But it also found alcohol abuse and obesity are too.

So what will the government ban next? Will bars and restaurants soon serve only non-alcoholic drinks? Will public Twinkie-eating soon be illegal?

You probably think I’m sitting here, angrily puffing away on cigarettes as I’m writing this. Truth is I’m not a smoker. I’m simply an American citizen who believes in free enterprise. Do you?