Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Weekly Podium: "Smokers Having Their Rights Snuffed Out"

Since my last classes at Lord Fairfax Community College, I used to make the occasional visit to my former post-secondary institution of education. I had a few friends that were finishing up their degree programs, or simply taking a course or two for a certificate they were attempting to obtain.

Many of these former fellow students and friends of mine had long congregated in a sheltered area outside a set of double doors in an area dubbed "The Smoker's Pit". It was sheltered on 3 sides with a roof, and allowed for some reprieve from the usually miserable elements of mother nature that tend to plague the Northern Shenandoah Valley during the late fall and winter months. It also allowed for reprieve from the stress of exams, labs, and the other strains of college education by giving people a sheltered area in which to relax and have a cigarette or two between classes. Lots of political, social, and pop-culture related banter took place in "The Pit".

During my final year at LFCC, The Student Council not only allowed, but sponsored advertising for "National Smoke-Out Day", posting anti-smoking ads across the hallways of the college. Normally, I would have brushed this off as more liberal drivel and ignored it...except they faced one of these posters through the window towards those smoking in "The Pit". This was alright with the Student Union...but my marker-written replies on the back of the poster(facing inside the school) about Jim Fixx and other "pro-healthy living" people of the past and present(and their early demises) was considered "unacceptable" and "not promoting the health of LFCC students". I wasn't punished at all, but I was chastized for only

This anti-smoking campaign was created, of course, because 18-25 year olds in recent and present generations don't know that smoking can cause cancer and other diseases...that hasn't been drilled in our heads since the early 80's, right?

Upon my return visits to this institution, they have now forced all smokers to smoke in designated gazebos...with maximum exposure to the elements. Need a smoke when the wind chill is 5 degrees outside? Well, too bad...you don't even get a wall to protect you from the bitter cold wind.

Fast-forward to present day. Our esteemed Governor(and Mark Warner coat-tail rider)Tim Kaine has banned smoking in-and-around most government facilities, which is fine. However, now he's exploring the possibility of having smoking in restaurants/bars/etc...banned in the state of Virginia. What Mr Kaine does not realize is that tobacco usage is a staple of this state. To eliminate tobacco use would only drive out Richmond's stalwart corporations due to resentment towards Mr. Kaine's policies, but eliminate a right to smoke that liberals are attempting to eliminate throughout the country.

Smokers have long conceded various aspects of their rights to pacify the aggressive non-smoking advocates. Most restaurants have designated smoking areas to around the bar area, or reserved over two-thirds of dining area to non-smoking tables, forcing smokers at some restaurants to endure longer waits for tables on busier nights than non-smokers. Fast-food establishments, for the most part, banned smoking in their facilities long ago, although a few exceptions remain. Even my present employer forces employees not only to their cars...but have forced employees to drive off the property in order to smoke on their breaks.

Such is the price to burn one and relax for 10 minutes.

With all these concessions made, why the continued left-wing persecution of people for making a "lifestyle choice". If someone choses to be gay, be anti-American, or have a child out of wedlock, the liberals run to their defense as it is a "lifestyle choice". However, if someone wants to light up a cigarette because they enjoy it, down comes the proverbial hammer upon those who smoke because it's "unhealthy" and even "morally wrong", as smoking supports "those evil tobacco companies", as they are labeled by the anti-smoking advocates. Here's some breaking news to the liberal world, smokers know it is unhealthy, and to treat them as though they don't is condescending and demeaning.

I quit smoking for good several months ago as a personal choice, and as a favor to my wife(who requested I do so, as she was allergic to the smell of the smoke)...however, I refuse to quietly allow good people to have their rights denied because a handful of "activists" decided(as usual) to loudly voice their problems with smoking.

And even though I quit smoking, those truth.com commercials give me more of an itch to light up again than any Joe Camel ad ever did in my youth.