Smokers are fuming

Published 9:13 pm Thursday, April 9, 2009

The year 2009 hasn’t exactly been the best year for smokers.

Cigarette companies raised prices to offset lost profits in the wake of the largest federal tobacco tax increase, from 39 cents to $1.01 per pack in March.

In Alabama, the state Legislature tried to pass an anti-smoking bill that would have restricted smoking in most public places, including restaurants, bars, businesses and public transportation.

Even though the bill failed, it has to get under smokers’ skin a bit.

Profiting from popular vices is nothing new. I read an article in TIME Magazine that outlined a history of “sin taxes,” as they are called, which have ranged from legalized prostitution to men’s beards. As to whether a beard is a vice, I’ll leave that up to you.

As for the concept of prohibiting smoking in public places, I don’t know that I can agree with that. No, I don’t smoke, and I don’t enjoy breathing secondhand smoke, but I try to be open-minded.

If people choose to smoke, that is their choice. I believe in encouraging people to quit, but no one can make the decision for them. It’s when their habit starts affecting me that I start to have a problem with it.

If I sit in a non-smoking section of a restaurant, I would rather not smell cigarette smoke. Local laws have helped this problem, but smoking is allowed in many places, especially bars.

You would think that most people who go to bars already smoke, but there have to be many who do not. If there is no way to divide an establishment into separate sections, I can certainly see requiring people to smoke outside — in a designated area away from main doorways.

I think a major issue lies within our private homes. Of course, this is left up to families to decide. Anyone who has children in their home should go outside every time they smoke or seriously consider quitting. Telling your kids they shouldn’t smoke and doing the opposite sends the wrong message.

I know my grandfather is 84 and has smoked for most of his life. I am glad to still have him around, but not everyone is that fortunate. You’ve got to ask yourself, how much of a gambler are you?