Thursday, December 08, 2005

Today, (12/08/05, page B1) Peoria Journal Star writer Phil Luciano laments that the Chicago City Council passed an ordinance to prohibit smoking in Chicago public places including taverns.  In the normal Journal Star fashion, he manages to call Chicago by five (my count) derogatory names and a reporter by one.  

He ends his article by declaring “Put out your smokes.  Put out your rights.”  His conclusion of course is that to prevent smoking in public places is a violation of smokers’ rights.  My question is: What about the rights of non smokers to be in public places without their air being polluted by a substance that is known according to accepted medical research to cause cancer and other diseases?  Don’t we have any rights?  Is it only smokers who have the right to do what they wish in public places?  Does Mr. Luciano understand the meaning of public?  Or, in his world does public only include smokers?

He suggests that free enterprise should determine where smoking occurs.  Should free enterprise also determine who operates on you medically and where?  Should free enterprise also determine who owns a gun and who does not?  Should free enterprise determine who gets arrested for a crime and who does not?  

One of the purposes of government is to provide safety for the public good.  If elected government officials decide that banning smoking in public places is a public safety concern, why should free enterprise be the determining factor?  At one time, free enterprise determined that slaughterhouses should not be inspected for health reasons because to do so would interfere with the right of businesses to conduct their business?  Should we go back to those good old days of free enterprise?

He argues further that smoking is legal.  And it is indeed.  However, if cigarettes were to be regulated strictly on the basis of a health issue and a science issue (an erroneous argument used by the Star’s editorial staff to allow over the counter abortion pills), they would not be legal!  They are legal for purely political reasons—not for health reasons.  The general public has a right to a healthy environment in all public places!  And politically, governments are beginning to accept that.  That Mr. Luciano is the basis of democracy!

One final question: is it child abuse to smoke in an enclosed vehicle with young children in that vehicle?        


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