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Welcome to STop, the Seattle Times Opinion blog where our editorial writers and editors share their evolving thoughts on a variety of issues. STop is a place where opinion writers and readers can exchange views and readers can learn more about how editorial positions are formed.

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Jim Vesely
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Jim Vesely
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Lee Moriwaki
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Lee Moriwaki
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Joni Balter
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Eric Devericks
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Lance Dickie
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Lance Dickie
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Bruce Ramsey
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Kate Riley
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Kate Riley
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Lynne Varner
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Lynne Varner
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Ryan Blethen
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Ryan Blethen
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November 02, 2005

All on Fire About Smoking

Reactions to my column today on the smoking-ban initiative, available here.

I've heard some pretty creative definitions of "diversity" (the 21st century's first official buzzword) but your use of it in your column takes the word to new and absurd heights.

I used the dictionary definition, not the PC definition. A way of making a little dig at the PC use of the term, which I find obnoxious.

What is oppressive about making people practice their legal drug addition away from the two-thirds of us who are smart enough to stay off drugs, including legal ones like tobacco? If the two thirds of us who are smart enough to be drug free want to go to a bar and have a drink while listening to music why should we be subjected to the poision of those addicted? Why would any business cater to a minority of the population and exclude the majority? Why should drug addicts have more rights than non-drug addicts? And when are people like you going to stop calling a drug addition a habit? A habit is biting your nails, not ingesting poisonous, additive drugs into your body. Even more a puzzle is why tobacco is the last remaining legal drug.

I have had smokers compare smoking to drinking. There is no comparasion. Several medical studies have shone that there are some health benefits to moderate drinking. None have shown that about smoking. There is not one health or socially beneficial quality about smoking..

Several comments on this. First, the oppressive part is that people like the writer of this letter want ALL bars and taverns to be the way they like them and NONE to be the way smokers like them. That's oppressive. Why would any business cater to a minority of the population? Well--why do delis sell head cheese? Why do pizza places offer anchovies? Freedom, man! Choice. (Diversity!) Why should drug addicts have more rights than non-addicts? Ain't nobody says they should. When should nonsmokers have all the bars and smokers none?

When are people like me going to stop calling a drug addiction a habit? The column is here. You find where I called it a "habit." I can't find it. I do find where I said Deng "sucked down another hit." I also used the term "nicotine addicts."

"Even more a puzzle is why tobacco is the last remaining legal drug." Ah! You want to prohibit it, then? Back to the 1920s with liquor? Which brings us to the last statement, that there are health benefits to drinking but no "socially beneficial quality" of smoking.

What is a socially beneficial quality? Is that something that can be distinguished from a merely beneficial quality? And who decides these things? The electorate, in a yes-no vote? Or each of us, as individuals, for ourselves?

Another reader responds:

I-901 sounds a lot like democracy to me.

It's democracy, all right. I prefer freedom.

Bruce I am so sick of holding my breath when I try to walk into a Walmart or many other retail stores. When you start using smokeless cigarettes that don't take anyone's life but your own you are welcome to enjoy them anywhere. Some of us are too polite to complain all the time. Then you have inconsiderate people who light up in the smoking section of a restaurant and blow smoke all the way out. Please just stick with killing yourselves.

You've got the whole store under your rules, and you won't begrudge the entrance? Be reasonable. (And yes, when you say, "Please just stick to killing yourselves," you are making an assumption about me--that I am a smoker. But I didn't say I was or wasn't. Because it should not matter.)

I plan to vote for the smoking ban. As I see it, this issue is about continuing to be excluded from certain establishments because they allow tobacco smokers the exclusive right to satisfy their needs, while simultaneously excluding my right to satisfy my needs, either by smoking something else, or by not having other people's exhaled smoke swirling around my plate of food while I eat.

In other words, you want to exclude them. Why can't we have a world where the smokers have some places and the non-smokers have some places?

Respond to Bruce.

 
Posted by Bruce Ramsey at November 2, 2005 06:42 PM



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