Smoking An Unhealthy Choice, But One We're All Free To Make


by Debbie Lombardi
In your Oct. 8 edition of Letters to the Editor, Margeret Ericksen takes me to task for having expressed my views on smoking in public places, then implies that simply because I hold the opinion that I do, I must not know what I'm talking about.

Ms. Eriksen might be interested to learn that I am a single, non-smoking, 24-year-old college student of Italian extraction, and a full-time waitress in a local restaurant -- one with a smoking section.

I work every day around both smokers and non-smokers. To be sure, breathing smoke all day makes me ill, but no more so than the arrogance and holier-than-thou whining I endure from Ms. Eriksen's crowd.

What I find most interesting is that Ms. Eriksen never addresses my point at all, but instead, avoids the issue by changing the subject to that of a health issue, a very convenient hot button indeed. Then (she) suggests that I was trying to defend indefensible behavior.

I will attempt to ignore Ms. Eriksen's rather hateful and clearly prejudicial language and try again to redefine the critical underlying issue.

There is no question as to whether or not smoking is a threat to the physical well-being of some of the people who do it, and possibly even to some nearby.

But drinking alcohol and contact football and driving over the speed limit and skydiving and fireplaces and roller skating and growing juniper trees and water skiing and barbecue grills and bicycling and about a million other perfectly legal (items and) activities (also can threaten their well-being).

My point is that what is being studiously ignored here, initially by Jeanne Bench and now by Margeret Eriksen, is that this debate is actually taking place in the United States of America. Remember America? Land of the free? Someone please tell me who rescinded the Constitution while I was asleep. Are we no longer free to make choices for ourselves, or does the word "choice" now apply only to those of us who want to kill our unborn babies?

Smokers choose to smoke. They also knowingly choose to run the risk of dying young. Ms. Eriksen is just as free to choose not to smoke nor patronize any establishment where smoking occurs. She is not free, however, to decide for the rest of us that we may no longer make these same choices.

That is my point, and it will remain my point until they manage to further deface that precious and fragile document to which I previously referred. I would suggest that Ms. Ericksen exercise her own freedoms, while they last, and allow the rest of us to do the same.

By the way, an excellent debate on this very subject is currently being waged on your Web site, Providing such a forum is, in my opinion, a terrific service to the on-line community. Thank you.

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