Sunday, May 2, 2010

Thank You For Smoking

I was at the bar last night (gasp!) because I've been craving hot wings. Brady's Bar in Traverse City, MI has the best wings I've ever had. It's a little place which caters to a more laid-back older crowd, what with its hunting and fishing themed decor. It's a great place to meet and socialize because the music is always low, it's rarely crowded, and there's never a cover.

Michigan recently passed a law banning smoking from all public buildings (including bars). The law even bans smoking on patios and requires that bar owners attempt to restrict smoking in the parking lot. It was by complete coincidence that we where there on May 1st, the day the law went into effect. I'm not a smoker, though many of my friends are. I am however, an advocate of freedom.

To me, the choice to smoke or not to smoke should be in the hands of the individual—a freedom that is increasingly under fire by activist groups—or at least in the hands of the bar owners. There are many, many smokeless bars all throughout the state already. (Most restaurants that have a bar have been smoke free for at least a decade.) We all know that smoking poses health risks, and that second hand smoke is no exception.

However, second hand smoke is as much of a choice as is first hand smoke. Despite what the media says, second hand smoke is not as bad as first hand smoke for at least two reasons. One, the smoker's lungs absorb many of the harmful chemicals, therefore reducing a lit cigarette's toxins by a certain degree. Second, the smoker has a regular habit and is exposed to smoke more regularly than a non-smoker in a bar.

The most upsetting thing about this experience was the group of middle-aged women from the local hospital who where apparently doing a pub-crawl to hand out "I [heart] MI smoke free air" stickers. I refused a sticker due mostly to their hypocrisy. Excessive smoking may kill more people annually than drinking, but alcohol destroys more families, kills more young people (who would otherwise quit as they get older), and damages more property than smoking.

What we need is more innovative education about both smoking and alcohol. What we need is more tact. The anti-smoking mantras are just white noise to people, or worse, they're outright irritating and oppressive. Don't we learn anything from history? I appreciate their cause, and applaud them for standing up for their principles—but where were they before they had the state on their side? Not in the bar, that's for sure... it's too smokey.
FEATURED MEDIA: Thank You for Smoking - Nick Naylor is a tobacco lobbyist, whose job it is to fight off anti-smoking policies and other threats to business. However, despite what most people think, this movie is not about smoking. That's just the platform. This movie is about personal choice, and the ability to argue your point. It is a must-see for any free thinker, and a movie that should be recommended to and discussed with "closed-minded" people.

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