Where there's smoke, there's fire — and things are certainly heating up in the debate about tobacco. Smoking is becoming increasingly less socially acceptable, perhaps leading to an outright ban one day. But is it fair to shun smokers? Or are bad habits a civil right?
Share your thoughts in the comments below.
The American Lung Association recently graded local cities for their anti-tobacco policies, and not one Contra Costa County town got an 'A'. Pleasant Hill and Martinez both got 'B' grades, Concord got a 'C' and Walnut Creek along with the cities of Lamorinda landed 'F' grades. In response, Patch users lit up a debate about smoking.
On the Concord Patch Facebook page, Jennifer Stout says that it doesn't matter about anti-tobacco policies. Smokers are going to "light up anywhere they please" despite the rules.
Jack Grant operates a mobile cigar lounge in the area. He says he doesn't know how far cities will have to go to meet the standards set by the American Lung Association, unless it would include banning smoking in homes as well as public places. But, he added, "I couldn't agree more about banning cigarettes!"
Commenter Zach McCaslin says that smokers "have increasingly become a minority in our society, and look how readily we oppress them." He says that the focus should be preventing children from becoming smokers, "while allowing adult smokers to smoke responsibly."
McCaslin goes on to say:
"We don't need a law to enforce smokers to be considerate. A smoker that is very inconsiderate should just be cited for disturbing the peace. All these blanket bans are overkill, and show a lack of sensitivity to the cares of smokers. If a person smokes in an outdoor nonsmoking area, and no one is anywhere near them, should they be cited? Are we punishing them only when they disturb others or are we just punishing them for being smokers? I don't smoke, but it just rubs me wrong the way smokers are being treated like vagrants or criminals. They are normal people like anyone else, maybe with a bit more trouble on their minds than the rest of us that makes them need a cigarette. They deserve a little consideration. Just because there are more of us than them, doesn't make it right to treat them badly."
Commenters on the Lamorinda Patch Facebook page said they were surprised by the area's 'F' grade from the American Lung Association because they "never see anyone smoking" around town. Gail Finkelstein of Lafayette says, "either let smokers smoke or we should quit selling cigarettes here." She adds that she has wanted to quit smoking for more than 20 years.
On the Walnut Creek Facebook page, Gina Borgognoni-Wilton says that "you can pretty much wherever you want in Walnut Creek." She adds, "I don't smoke, but I think that's the way it should be. I'm not in to having people's rights taken away!"
But commenter Andrea Garcia Pezel disagrees.
"I constantly hear how smokers have rights too, but what about the rights of non-smokers?" she asks. "Why should I have to be affected and be subjected to toxins because of someone else's choice? I'm also more acutely aware now that I have a small child who is walking and is at the perfect height of where people hold their cigarettes. I don't feel like Walnut Creek has done anything to address this issue."
Are you all fired up about the smoking debate? Do you think smoking should be banned, regulated or accepted? How? Share your experiences and thoughts in the comments below.