A Frightening Experience essay

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Before we can even discuss whether or not smoking should be allowed in "public places," we have to define what we're talking about when we say "public places." If that phrase means the great outdoors and/or any place other than the smokers private little box of their homes, then yes, smoking should be allowed. If we're talking about public, common areas, confined by walls or some other barrier that traps the smoke within an area shared by others, then no, smoking should not be allowed. It's rude, it imparts an odor non-smokers have chosen not to have on their clothes and hair, and most research does indicate that secondhand smoke can be dangerous to the health of others.

Let's take the moral, social, and scapegoat elements out of this argument of banned smoking in public, communal areas to examine the reasons for what some may see as a radical restriction of personal rights for the smoker. As I've already stated, smoking in these areas leaves a very strong and pronounced odor. When this odor gets into the hair and clothing of others, it's not just an inconvenience, it's a violation of their personal rights. Cigarette smoke is also not "just" an odor that passes through and will disappear with a nice breeze. Tar is a major element of cigarette smoke, and that tar can't be "aired out." It must be washed out. Yes, the smoker is denied their rights by not being allowed to smoke in public, communal areas, but they deal with no lingering consequences from the denial of this right. Non-smokers do.

Whether we like it or not, smoking has become the Great Scapegoat of our times. I could go through a grocery shopping list of reasons why the reaction to cigarette smoke is hysterical in nature, but I'll limit myself to just a few quick examples and try to cover some possible reasons that smoking has become such an emotional and somewhat irrational issue.

There's no doubt that smoking is hazardous to one's health, but to assume that all people who suffer from...
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