This minor rant brought to you by a former smoker.  As a matter of fact, I quit 17 years ago this month. 

OK, I know that smoking is bad for you.  I know that second hand smoke is bad for you.  But why is it that the same liberal minds that advocate free needle programs for drug addicts, or free condom distribution for our children, have made smokers the pariahs of our country and have tried to ban them from every public place, even if that “public place” is a privately owned restaurant or business? 

This is the United States of America; a free country (for a little while longer, anyway).  If you want to pollute your lungs, you should be free to do so.  You don’t want to work in a restaurant where people smoke?  Go find another job.  Nobody is forcing you to work there.  You don’t want to eat in a restaurant where there’s a smoking section?  Eat somewhere else. 

Have I been annoyed by smoke from a smoking section 6 inches from my booth?  Yes.  Could I have gotten up to leave?  Yes.  Did I?  No.  I just don’t go to that restaurant as often, or during busy times because their ventilation system stinks.  

Oh, but smoking is bad for you.  It costs us millions in health care.  Yeah, so does eating that Big Mac and Peanut Buster Parfait.  Watch out, the food police would like to tax that, too. 

So be consistent…if nicotine is the horrible, evil, nasty drug that the government says it is, then ban all of it.  Oops…there goes all that revenue. 

Why am I ranting?  Because I spent the day with my mother, a 67 year old heart patient who smokes.  She’s not going to stop.  OK, fine.  You wanna die early, that’s your choice.  But when I took her to her doctor today for an appointment, she was not even allowed to smoke outside the building.  In that thing we call open air.  Alright, the hospital that owns the property can make that call.

The restaurant we visited after her appointment would not allow her to smoke inside.  The restaurant didn’t make that call; the local county government did.  The owner of the business has no choice in the matter.  I wonder how much business he’s losing?  The only reason we stayed was because I was starving and there wasn’t anywhere else we could go before getting back to my county (where it’s still ok to light up).

Do I like cigarette smoke? Of course not.  Have I told my kids about the dangers of smoking?  You betcha.  They know better.  We’ve even role played the peer pressure thing.  They tell their grandma she shouldn’t smoke.  If I ever catch any of them with a cigarette there will be hell to pay, after I first smack them upside the head. 

But for crying out loud, my mother wanted to smoke a cigarette, not shoot herion.  Oh wait…she could’ve gotten free needles for that.