Smokers’ so-called rights

There was a letter to the editor in the Hamilton Spectator today, in response to another letter from yesterday regarding the “rights” of smokers vs. non-smokers. Today’s letter read:

We can debate this issue until the cows come home.

What I find intriguing is that non-smokers scream about their rights and their liberties, and how I as a smoker infringe upon them.

I say “ditto.” I, too, have a right to eat, shop and walk in an environment that is comfortable to me and not feel segregated or put down or looked down upon.

If I, as the letter writer says, wish to put as much nicotine and tar into my body as I like, let me do it when and where I wish.

Terri Hamm, Hamilton

I immediately wrote a reply and sent it in to the Spec:

You are obviously informed about the dangers of smoking and yet have chosen to smoke anyway. That’s your right and I will not argue it with you. If you want to put that crap into your body, go ahead. You’ve made that decision. But while you are putting that crap into your body, you’re putting that crap into the body of everyone around you as well, without their consent. Many others have made the decision NOT to put that crap into their bodies, and yet they’re subjected to it anyway. This will happen if I simply stand near you – I don’t need to interact with you or even know who you are. And you’re arguing that you should have the RIGHT to subject others to your smoke?

If I want to drink myself into oblivion, that’s my decision. But it’s ludicrous for me to argue that I have the right to pour alcohol down the throats of everyone around me just so that I don’t feel “looked down upon”.

It is absolutely stunning to me that we actually have to have this argument. If you want to foul up your body with cigarettes, that’s your decision and your right. But when your habit negatively affects my health, that’s where your rights end. If I get drunk and harass people at the door of the local grocery store, I will be asked to leave and arrested if I don’t. Nobody’s health is in jeopardy here, customers are just being annoyed. But if I smoke near the door and compromise everyone’s health, nobody cares and if they do, the smoker argues about “smokers’ rights”. I don’t get it.


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