Dodging The Smokers - And Response

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Re" Roy Exum column on smoking bans:

Roy, I just read your recent "Opinion" in the Chattanoogan and feel that I must comment.  Two points to consider:

1 - I do not feel that anyone is trying to ban smoking in your home or on your own property.  Any ban or potential ban that I've heard about is only in "public places and spaces" where others could be subjected to the dangers of "second-hand smoke".  Much different than implying that you may no longer be allowed to smoke your cigar on your own porch. 

2 - The Riverbend Festival did not ban smoking this year.  They merely increased the space where folks could enjoy the festival and its activities without subjecting themselves to the unpleasantness and danger of "second-hand smoke". 

 While I have enjoyed many of your articles over the years, I feel that this recent article has less to do with a proposed "ban" and more to do with your vendetta against your designated "Miss Busy-Body".  Surely, you would have to agree that for you to have the right to smoke your cigar in a public place could have harmful effects on those around you who share the same oxygen.  While it is impossible to determine what damage you and all of the other smokers have caused to all of the non-smokers, it is indisputable that smoking is very detrimental to the health of all smokers and non-smokers subjected to it.  

I do not know Kim White.  I do appreciate her efforts to make our public places more safe for everyone.  I do believe that you have the right to harm yourself by smoking, but not at the expense of those around you.  On your porch at your home, fine.  In public places where all "share" the same air, no.  No one should have the right to determine which public place is smoke-free, All public places should be smoke-free.  Morality has nothing to do with it.  Common courtesy to others is to not force your habits on others to their detriment.  

Regarding Riverbend, my family and friends like to watch the Riverbend performances from our chairs in the large grassy area between Riverfront Parkway and the Blue Plate Restaurant. Many prefer this area for its convenience to the vendors, big screens, restroom facitities, etc.  This was not one of the areas that was designated "smoke-free".  Each night we would place our chairs in an area where no one was smoking at the time.  Our enjoyment was always determined not by the musical performances but by whether or not anyone around us chose to "light up". 

Last night was a great night for Chattanooga with "one of our own", Lauren Alaina, performing on the Main Stage on "Fireworks" night as the last act of this year's festival.  She was awesome and deserving of that spot.  While Lauren was great, our enjoyment was diminished due to someone smoking a cigar a few rows away from us.  Any breeze coming off the water last night blew the cigar's "second-hand" smoke directly at us.  You or other smokers might say that all we had to do was to move away from the smoker.  As anyone who was or has been at Riverbend would know, it's just not that easy to find another spot especially after 6 or 7 p.m. each night.  More importantly, why should those who are courteous and considerate of those around them be inconvenienced instead of the person who chooses to disregard others right to smoke-free oxygen?

Coincidentally, earlier in the evening my friends and I were having dinner on one of the patios at one of the restaurants just as you come into Riverbend.  It was in a shaded location where we could be outside and enjoy each other while "people-watching" and looking for other friends and family coming to the last night of Riverbend.  I was able to "capture" an area on the end of the patio to hopefully be away from anyone choosing to smoke.  It was the only spot out of the sun and away from most of the other tables.  Well, just after we ordered a lady sat down at the table right next to us and "lit up".  All we could do was to get up and move our table further away from the smoke.  As we were doing this the lady noticed and offered to exchange tables with us since we would then be "upwind" from her smoke.  We declined since that could possibly locate us between two smoking tables.  She was very nice and, while she did continue to smoke, she soon moved to a table further away from us.  Her verbal consideration was appreciated, but her continued "assault" on the air that we were breathing into our lungs was disappointing.  How do you or any other smoker feel that it is your right to determine when and how much smoke is to be inhaled by others around you?

Is it strange that most non-smokers who previously were smokers become less tolerant of those smoking than those of us who have never smoked? 

Steve Scruggs
Nonsmoking Riverbender

* * *

I am mostly a nonsmoker, mostly. (Sorry Mom) 

Under times of stress, I have been known to enjoy a cigarette or two-I am not proud of this. My father who was a nonsmoker, came from an era of time that smoked often and everywhere (1950's). He taught us that you don't get to behave in public the way you do in your own home, I believe this as well. Smoking is a habit that smells. It is a habit that is dangerous to yourself, and to others. Don't force your habit on others in public. There are children in public. There are elderly folks in public. There are folks that have breathing issues (my friend has a child with Cystic Fibrosis) and other health struggles in public.  

You can have whatever habit you like-in your own home, on your own property..but be a little more thoughtful in public. It really isn't so much about rights as being a decent, more thoughtful individual. If I smoke in public, I go outside and away from others or to a designated area. I feel badly enough about this habit, I am not going to inflict my issues on the unassuming public. Think of it as..you may enjoy walking around your house naked, the rest of the world would prefer that you keep that mess in a designated area also.  A little perspective, and some common sense.   

Anna Creer
East Ridge


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