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Out of the Humidor

CA Readers
From the Print Edition:
Tyson vs. King, Jan/Feb 04

Dear Marvin,

I am an unusual reader of your fine magazine. I consider savoring a fine cigar to be one of the luxuries and delights of life, yet I am also extremely sympathetic to those, including myself, who detest the smell and smoke emitted from some tobacco products, and who are concerned about the effects of secondhand smoke.

I am dismayed that the tenor of your editorials and the content of many letters to the editor exude hostility to and contemptuousness of those who seek to limit our ability to smoke in public.

The antismoking side is absolutely right! While we, as residents of our great and free nation, have the ability to engage in the activity of smoking if we choose to do so as consenting adults, our rights end precisely at the point where the rights of others begin.

Although I thrill to my occasional treat of cigar and pipe smoking, I detest cigarettes, their foul odor and the effects of secondhand smoke from them, which any thinking and reasonable person cannot deny. I agree wholeheartedly that smoking must be prohibited in all public places, and rejoice over the fact that in many areas of the country, I can now go to restaurants and enjoy smoke-free dining. I wholeheartedly endorse the New York City ban and am appalled at the vilification of Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who, on this issue, is absolutely correct.

I cannot imagine the gall of one who goes into a restaurant today and lights up a tobacco product in close proximity to others who may not wish to "share" it. An old advertising campaign of the Philip Morris Companies was that smokers and nonsmokers should coexist and that "courtesy" should resolve potential disputes. We found that there was no courtesy, that the all-powerful addiction to cigarettes trumps courtesy every time, necessitating some role for government in protecting the rights of the nonsmoking majority.

My state of Pennsylvania has not taken the step which other, more enlightened jurisdictions have in banning smoking in public, but we are bound to fall in line in the years to come. Why is it so difficult for so many of us to respect the legitimate right of others not to be exposed to what many consider to be our unhealthful stench?

Oren M. Spiegler

Upper Saint Clair, PA

Editor's note: We do not dispute the right of nonsmokers to dine and be in public places without the anxiety of smelling or breathing smoke. But the new laws go beyond just eliminating smoking. They prohibit the creation of rooms or zones where smoking is allowed. Why shouldn't a restaurateur be allowed to create a separately ventilated, enclosed area for smokers? That's where your argument loses steam with us; if you are willing to give nonsmokers their rights, why not create laws that give smokers their rights, too?

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