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Opinion

Smoking ban infringes on smokers’ rights

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April 16, 2009

I’ve had a change of heart, and therefore will be switching gears. 

Anti-smokers with little experience around chain-smoking cigarette wielders aggravate me about as much as the chain-smokers themselves. As I mentioned last week, I can stand the hazy environments of Main Street’s bar scene, and I can definitely handle my hoodies skunking up my apartment bedroom with stale yester-evening secondhand smoke that’s fused with its fiber material. 

I can take it, and if I just so happen to get caught behind a cigar munching dude on my way to class in the middle of campus, I don’t complain. Sometimes I relish the moment where I try to name the brand; even if it’s just a Swisher Sweet (cherry flavor, preferably). 

I don’t smoke, but I can smoke, so, on some very hazy, moderate level, I do smoke, but in extremely rare situations. I can see why the few nicotine maniacs around here might get all bent out of shape at the thought of the all-campus smoke ban. This would be like Minnesota’s totalitarian approach to smoking where they quarantine smokers either outside or keep them out of its inner restaurant scene all together; only here, the act would illegalize smoking from our entire, lovely outdoor campus.

Here’s my problem. We’re outside where the air, thanks to Momma Nature, moves freely, and you, the anti-smoking extremist you are, can maneuver away and around the theater major in front of you with a cig in his hand. 

Seriously. You complain that the secondhand smoke will kill ya, well, work it outta your system by taking the long way and walking along Cascade to get to class. If you don’t like it, use your rights as an American and choose to find another way. It’s not like you’re confined to the sidewalks. And as far as the groups huddling together in the negative degree weather; don’t look at them if you don’t like them. 

God. Look elsewhere and forget their existence. Complain, complain and complain all you want, but as Bill Hicks once said: “non-smokers die everyday.”  No matter how hard you try, these addicts are going to follow you wherever you go. They’re going to congregate in the same Wisconsin bars you do, and, God forbid, they may even strike a conversation or even a long lasting relationship with you.

Damn. And I understand the laws of logic.

Those who smoke around tiny children ought to be smashed with a diamond fist; but that never happens around here, or at least I’ve never seen it happen.  Here’s another reason the campus smoke ban is ridiculous: it’s cold around here most of the year, and we spend most of our time INSIDE, where smoking will never be tolerated, so what’s the big deal?

When it’s negative 18 degrees outside, the last thing I’d be thinking about (if I weren’t smoke adapted) would be about the air I was breathing. I’d actually be spending my thoughts on figuring out the quickest and warmest route to my class. I don’t think, for a second, that I’d give one ounce of my intellect complaining about the stench of burning tobacco. 

I’ve heard other myths about this thing called “thirdhand smoke,” too. The thing is; I know nothing about it, other than the fact that I don’t have a third hand to extend toward the body of limbs that are the negative effects of smoking. 

How is this even possible? What ever happened to “what you can’t see can’t hurt you?” Why do we have to be super-hyper-extremely-aware of everything nowadays? 

I remember when it was cool to strike a match on my chin. I’m not saying go strike up the habit, just leave these people alone and take comfort in the fact that the secondhand smoke, the headaches caused by it and the annoying justifications smokers tell you and themselves is far greater than wasting your time and money sucking down a tube of nicotine in habit. 

Brad Brookins is a graduate of UW-River Falls.