Out of the Humidor
From the Print Edition:
James Woods, May/Jun 97
(continued from page 2)
Mr. Washington, with all due respect, your scenario of individual freedoms being stripped away by people jealous of your "pursuit of happiness" borders on the insane. If you want to make an argument about individual freedoms being stripped away, then what gives you the opinion that your right to smoke a cigar in a public place (e.g., restaurant) outweighs the rights of others to breathe fresh, unpolluted air, free of carcinogenic smoke?
Let me give you a scenario, Mr. Washington. It appears that you believe that your right as a cigar smoker to adversely affect the health of nonsmokers is greater than their right to breathe fresh air. In other words, you should be allowed to follow your "pursuit of happiness," no matter how it affects others. Then I say, let's revoke all drunk driving laws. Maybe driving while intoxicated is the "pursuit of happiness" for some people. So a few innocent bystanders are killed once in a while, but at least people get to practice their "pursuit of happiness." After all, as you seem to believe, the right to follow a "pursuit of happiness" no matter what the pursuit or how it affects others, outweighs the rights of the rest of society.
Mr. Washington, a person's eating and dressing habits do not affect another person's health. If someone wishes to maintain a diet of fatty, high-cholesterol foods, that is their choice--a choice that does not impact the health and well-being of others. While certain dressing habits (e.g., the wearing of leather or fur) may anger or offend some, that also does not impact their health.
However, over the years studies have proven that without a doubt, inhaling second- hand smoke is detrimental to a person's health. Mr. Washington, I have nothing against people who smoke cigars or cigarettes. It is your business if you want to invite a lifetime of hacking coughs, yellow teeth, breathing difficulties and clothes that reek of the stench of smoke. If that is your idea of "having more fun than others," as you state in your letter, have as much fun as you want.
However, do not sit on your pedestal and try to pass off such a ridiculous scenario comparing the loss of other individual freedoms to the anti-smoking sentiment. And do not try to tell me that your right to enjoy a cigar outweighs my right to breathe fresh air free of carcinogenic smoke.
Joseph S. King
Bound Brook, New Jersey
Editor's response: Mr. King, no one disputes your right to breathe clean air. That's why smoking and non-smoking sections have been created, and in many cities around the country, they work, allowing those who want to enjoy a post-dinner smoke the privilege of doing so. But don't be so negative about cigar smokers. I've smoked cigars in moderation for years and I don't have a hacking cough or yellow teeth or breathing difficulties, and neither do most cigar smokers I know.
By way of a compliment to you, sir, I've enclosed a facsimile of a letter I recently sent to the editor of another magazine. Although it appears as though you have singlehandedly
pioneered the 1990s cigar renaissance, it is regrettable that many new smokers seem to be ignorant parvenus and pretentious lowlifes, whose social consciousness is elevated no more than a toilet seat, and whose moral restraint rarely exceeds the scum line.
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