Systematic suicide a personal choice
Although it’s a harsh verb to use, I hate smoke.I hate the obnoxious fumes drifting across my face, searching for a free lung to temporarily inhabit and destroy, while my family is trying to enjoy a meal in a fine dining environment, or me and a buddy are absorbing a quick shot and a brewski in a fine drinking establishment.I hate the cigarettes that cause the smoke.I hate when some narcissistic jerk lights up in front of me without at least asking if I “mind” first. I hate when I see a mother smoking in front of her kids, yelling at them to stop waving that stick or they’ll “put somebody’s eye out!” while she’s flicking ashes over anyone within a five-foot radius by waving her very own ultimate stick of death.I hate lung cancer and the horribly selfish domino-styled after-effects following the victim’s inevitably painful death that are left behind for loved ones.On the other hand (there’s always one of those in a democracy), although nicotine is a drug, it is a legal drug (just like booze!), and all of the arrogant, tree-hugging, pantywaist ex-hippy zealots attempting to dictate the behavior of others by removing an individual’s freedom from enjoying a legal product through the misguided use of social engineering need to back off quicker than local Vilar supporters.But let me tell you where I really stand.Eagle County will have a ballot question exactly six weeks from today asking you – the typically enlightened and usually intelligent voter of Happy Valley – if you are in favor of local leaders adopting regulations (aka, enforceable rules) prohibiting smoking in all unincorporated and enclosed public places, including restaurants and bars.A YES vote will not ban butt puffing anywhere, but will provide all three Eagle County commissioners with the batting power needed to knock the ball of smoking clear out of the park (to borrow a John Roberts analogy). In other words, they will view the affirmative vote as Bush did his “mandate” towards privatizing Social Security and banning homosexual honeymoons.And we all know how well that worked.The U.S. government should not always be the trump card in what is undeniably a personal choice, even if that choice is dumber than a roomful of Kansas school board members voting to strike the name Darwin from all science text books with the almighty sword of mythology.The Centers for Disease Control say that about 440,000 Americans die each year from lung cancer and other diseases related to tobacco use. But if an individual chooses to live and die in such a manner, then that is their problem, not mine and certainly not the governments.For every smoke-filled fanatic shouting they have an “American right!” to systematically kill themselves, as well as others in the general vicinity, with their toxic vapors, I can find at least three dozen of those very same “others” who claim the same “right” to peaceful co-existence with smoke-free air.But we can’t have it both ways, lest we (gasp!) be accused of cultural hypocrisy.Alcohol, which on a worldwide basis kills just as many as tobacco, is marketed, promoted, advertised, fostered, encouraged, supported and praised in movies, television, radio, magazines, newspapers, sporting events, festivals of any sort (I enjoyed Oktoberfest last Saturday as much as anyone) as the good-time drug that allows you to stay in incredible physical shape in spite of mental instability and, of course, to never sleep alone after a night of partying.I could be wrong, but to the best of my knowledge, no one has ever been killed due to a driver who had too much tobacco to smoke. What makes the hypocrisy even worse is the partisan scuffles over social liberties (which liberals love and conservatives hate) and economic liberties (vise versa) that are tossed around like abortion studies proving the benefits of stem cell research whenever mass-media exposed tragedies are announced (Nick Nolte and Peter Jennings, for example).So now here’s the kicker: The upcoming countywide election is a mail-in ballot only. I indeed hate smoking, but hate hypocrisy and losing liberties even more, so all smokers should either drop a few ashes inside your mail-in ballot envelope or maybe burn one or two cigarette-sized holes through the ballot before mailing.If anything, it will help you exhale your point.Just do me a favor and don’t tell them I gave you the idea, as my Inbox flames enough as it is.Richard Carnes of Edwards writes a weekly column for the Daily. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. This column, as with all personal columns, does not necessarily reflect the views of the Vail Daily.Vail Colorado
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