New Jersey will become the 11th state to impose a comprehensive ban on smoking in indoor public places like restaurants and bars. The exceptions are the gambling floors of Atlantic City’s casinos - a compromise that was essential for the ban to win legislative approval in January. The new smoking restrictions are the culmination of more than three decades of wrangling in New Jersey between antismoking advocates and the once-powerful tobacco lobby.
Having just seen “Thank You For Smoking” this weekend, I’m not at all inclined to shed any tears for cigarette smokers or the tobacco lobby. From where I sit, New Jersey’s decision to ban indoor smoking is yet another victory for public health and clean air…and I couldn’t be happier about it.
Yes, I realize that my argument is hardly an airtight one. I’ve heard the rebuttals before (hold your fire, Adam), but I’ll have to admit that I remain unmoved. SImply put, my right to breathe clean, unpolluted air trumps your right to smoke - anytime, anywhere, anyplace. This is purely an emotional argument, and I am fully aware of that. And, not so strangely enough, I’m OK with that, because smoking is for me a very emotional issue. I grew up with a father who smoked, and I have long, hard, and not terribly pleasant experience with secondhand smoke to lend credence to my argument. I detest cigarette smoke, and I’m also borderline allergic to it. If I don’t want to inhale someone else’s second smoke, there’s no reason on Earth why I should have to.
You’ll have to pardon me then if I chalk this up as yet another notch in the metaphorical bedpost. I don’t expect anyone to agree with me, and I frankly don’t much care. I’m happy that one more state has seen fit to marginalize cigarette smoking (not smokers, mind you - smoking). WIth the momentum finally spreading to Europe, it’s good to know that we’re rapidly approaching a time when tobacco may well become, if not obsolete, then certainly at least so marginalized and proscribed as to be no longer worth the trouble. Hey, it could happen, and I hope to live long enough to realize the dream.