Mike Cope's blog

Friday, January 23, 2004

We came THAT close! (And maybe we'll still get there.) I couldn't believe Abilene was so close to having a ban on smoking in restaurants. As a lifelong asthmatic, it was almost beyond my highest hopes. But, alas, the Abilene Reporter-News ran an editorial reminding us that we should let businesses make their own decisions, and then let people respond accordingly. If I don't like gagging at Joe Allen's when the smaller nonsmoking room is full, then I don't have to go there. If I don't like waiting at Abuelo's with smoke pouring in from the bar--then I can do the Bueno drive-through. Why not extend the ARN's logic further? Why should we demand that restaurants not use horse meat? Why not let them make their own decisions and then let people choose or not choose to go there? Why have the health department check their kitchens every so often to see whether they are meeting certain standards? Why not just let them decide how clean or dirty they want the kitchen to be, and then let others decide if they want to eat there? And why have fire codes? Shouldn't an owner of a PRIVATE business be able to decide if he wants his joint to be a firetrap or not? The public doesn't have to go there if things like exits and sprinklers are important to them? I'm flying today to a worship conference in Fresno. I get on the plane knowing it will be nonsmoking. Why not let the airlines decide? If AA wants to have smoking, I could chose to take another one . . . or drive. What the ARN editorialist didn't realize is that we do this all the time for matters of public safety. You cannot scream "FIRE" in a crowded theater -- even if it doesn't bother the theater owner and even if you feel that not being able to do so cramps your rights. You can smoke in your home. You can smoke in your backyard. But when people smoke in offices, waiting rooms, stadiums, airplanes, and restaurants -- OTHERS SUFFER THE HEALTH CONSEQUENCES. We asthmatics get ill. And all suffer (knowingly or unknowingly) from the damage of second-hand smoke. (The evidence of second-hand smoke is beyond debate.) This isn't taking away anyone's right to smoke. If they want to kill themselves with cigarettes they have that right. (Don't think we don't pay for it, however. Our health insurance rates would be significantly lower if people quit smoking.) But that doesn't give them a right to smoke around others.

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