Stanley S. Scott
Stanley S. Scott (1933-1992) was vice president and director of corporate affairs of Philip Morris Companies Inc. This essay originally appeared on December 29, 1984, on the op-ed page of the New York Times.
The Civil Rights Act, the Voting Rights Act, and a host of antidiscrimination laws notwithstanding, millions of Americans are still forced to sit in the back of planes, trains, and buses. Many more are subject to segregation in public places. Some are even denied housing and employment; victims of an alarming—yet socially acceptable—public hostility.
This new form of discrimination is based on smoking behavior.
If you happen to enjoy a cigarette, you are the potential target of violent antismokers and overzealous public enforcers determined to force their beliefs on the rest of society.
Even since people began smoking, smokers and nonsmokers have been able to live with one another using common courtesy and common sense. Not anymore. Today, smokers must put up with virtually unenforceable laws regulating when and where they can smoke—laws intended as much to discourage smoking itself as to protect the rights of nonsmokers. Much worse, supposedly responsible organizations devoted to the “public interest” are encouraging the harassment of those who smoke.
This year, for example, the American Cancer Society is promoting programs that encourage people to attack smokers with canisters of gas, to blast them with horns, to squirt them with oversized water guns, and burn them in effigy. (5)
Harmless fun? Note quite. Consider the incidents that are appearing on police blotters across America:
In a New York restaurant, a young man celebrating with frinds was zapped in the face by a man with an aerosol spray can. His offense: lighting a cigarette. The aggressor was the head of a militant anti-smoker organization whose goal is to mobilize an army of two million zealots to spray smokers in the...