Puffer’s rights going up in smoke

josh.perttunen and josh.perttunen

I have never understood the attraction of smoking. It is a filthy, disgusting self-destructive compulsion which leaves the smoker smelling like an ashtray and it is responsible for causing health problems which are too numerous to count.
These problems range from the cosmetic, yellowed and unattractive teeth, to the lethal, lung cancer.
The habit has been linked to causing ailments in people who choose not to smoke, but have had the misfortune of being repeatedly exposed to someone who does.
For these reasons, smokers have become accustomed to being herded outside of restaurants, workplaces and academic buildings. They’ve been ostracized to the point of becoming a routine twenty-first century stereotype. We’ve all had the experience of walking by a locale where smokers are huddling around a doorway leading into a building where they’re not allowed to smoke.
It is a sad sight to see, but the not-so-subtle push against their habit doesn’t stop there. If it did, this separation would be acceptable; since no one should be forced to ride shotgun to a smoker’s bad habit.
As it currently stands, NMU smokers must stay beyond a 30-foot line surrounding the entryway to all buildings. Freshman nursing major Lara Miller, a smoker and resident of West Hall, can be found smoking in designated areas either behind or in front of her dorms. She said NMU has shown how seriously it is about this policy.
“Over on the back side of the building, they chained the bench to a tree, so we couldn’t move it closer to the building,” she said.
But the agenda against smoking has been overstepping its boundaries. This is evident nationwide in the disproportionate amount of taxes levied on cigarettes and in the new sets of laws which are taking the choice of whether or not to be smoke-free out of the hands of business owners and placing it in the hands of the government. There is also the trend, which NMU is looking into adopting, of making campuses across the nation smoke-free.
This commitment toward isolating smokers isn’t new. In this decade, laws have already been passed in places such as the entire state of New York and Washington D.C, which have eliminated smoking in enclosed workplaces and public places.
I don’t care if cigarette manufacturers never make another dime of profit. I don’t care if thousands of smokers wake up tomorrow with a clear head and decide to put their smoking habit out in the ashtray of common sense. What I do care about, is that while a whole section of society chooses to smoke, we should not cast judgment on their habits and levy any harsher punishments upon them than the ones they willingly choose for themselves. If they’re not harming anyone else, they should be given some amount of freedom.
Whether to light up or not is a personal choice; whether or not to accommodate those who do should also be a personal choice as well. The government should not be able to come in and make such decisions on the behalf of business owners.
The government and business owners should strive to be as fair and equal in their treatment of smokers as they can.
If smoking is such a bad thing, the government should put smokers out of their misery and just make it illegal already, rather than keeping smokers around in a limited capacity to continually put the screws to them.
Smokers already live a tortured existence, with what their habit does to their appearance, their level of societal acceptance and their health. Does the government need to continually torture their pocketbooks as well?
The federal cigarette tax is .39 cents per pack, in addition to the state tax, which is $2.00, according to Michigan’s Cigarette and Tobacco Taxes 2006 Statistical Update. Tobacco taxes account for 5 percent of all Michigan taxes.
Everywhere smokers turn, they are finding that they are viewed as unwelcome visitors. Although businesses certainly shouldn’t roll out a red carpet for them, they also shouldn’t swipe the rug from under their feet.