The recent story on Columbia County's proposed smoking ban states that many people stay at home because clubs and/or restaurants are smoke-filled. That observation should tell the least astute reader that a large segment of the populace smokes, and that food and drink establishments make a good living providing a place where smokers and tolerant non-smokers enjoy clubbing and dining.
Legitimate, commonsense prohibitions against smoking already protect those in hospitals, stores, movie houses, public transport and airplanes; but Columbia County Commissioner Tom Mercer seeks to deny the citizens of Columbia County the right to exercise personal responsibility in the matter of tobacco use or exposure to it.
A non-smoker, I often sit in the smoking section of an eatery as it is often free of loud or hyperactive children. If the smoking seats are all taken, it is my choice to sit in the non-smoking section or leave. I see no need to have Mercer aid in my decision-making. We all have the right to avoid smokers if we are so inclined, but we do not have the right to dictate our wishes to smokers or restaurateurs.
Along with overeating, undereating, over exercising, underexercising, drinking, cycling and a plethora of potentially dangerous pursuits, smoking can undermine one's health. To what extent we wish to avoid the dangers of traffic, secondary smoke or obesity is the personal responsibility of each of us. Would Mercer recommend jail time for the McDonalds counterperson who asks: "Would you like fries with that?"
The article refers to total smoking prohibitions in Dublin, Ireland, but fails to mention the recent smoke-ins held in Irish pubs and restaurants as thousands of Irish citizens protested government intrusion into their personal lives.
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