It shouldn’t be OK to persecute smokers

I’ve had enough. You can’t go anywhere anymore and smoke a cigarette. I know, smoking is evil. It will eventually kill you, and it’s been rumored Satan smokes Marlboros. But when did it become OK to chase smokers out of town?
We ran a story in The Coast News last week about smoking at the county fair (“Board urged to go smoke-free at fair”). It seems there’s a determined army of local nonsmokers fighting to practically eliminate smoking from the public eye. They claim the fair board did a poor job of partitioning smokers from nonsmokers; that the “No Smoking” signage was “pathetic” at best. Furthermore, they utilize the old, worn-out “for the sake of the impressionable children” argument.
I reluctantly went to the fair one afternoon, and thought the smoking pen worked just fine. I didn’t spot any kids bumming a cigarette, nor did the second-hand smoke seem to agitate the passersby. Yet we continue to see smoke-free folks go for the jugular, skipping public discourse with their neighbors and going straight to the board of directors like a bunch of crybabies.    
If you don’t like it, then go elsewhere. As singer/songwriter Ben Harper once said (presumably in reference to an illegal smoking product): If you don’t like my fire, then don’t come around. Well put.
I understand eliminating smoking from restaurants. I too enjoy my meals not smelling of dirty ashtrays. The same goes for the beaches (sorry, I’ve seen one too many butts in the sand to back smokers up on this debate). But banning smoking at bars? On sidewalks? At Coaster stations? In elementary schools? I’m kidding! Calm down.
Honestly though, limitations need to be established here. This bandwagon mentality is out of control. The nonsmoking army spots a few smokers huddled in a dark, out-of-the-way corner, and they immediately spring into action. The smoking witch hunt is in full gear.
Put it in perspective: how would you feel if the anti-wine crowd was pleading with county officials to ban all vino sales because kids might get the wrong impression otherwise? And I’m talking to the over-50 crowd I see still sipping a few glasses on the beach as if the new laws don’t apply to you. You’d be downright pissed, wouldn’t you?  
While I do dabble with smoking from time to time, I am not addicted to nicotine. I haven’t bought a pack of cigarettes in years. Although that Arturo Fuente cigar I had on my birthday last week was a real treat! Soon, I won’t be able to enjoy such an indulgence, considering I have every last nonsmoker looking out for my good health. Gee, thanks.  
What further irritates me about these nonsmoking missionaries are their persistent one-sided attacks on smokers. Why aren’t they after gas-guzzling SUVs and factories and power plants and polluted oceans? Last I checked, our air in Southern California is dirty. At least smoking a cigarette is more enjoyable than breathing freeway fumes. 
I’m not an advocate of smoking tobacco. It is indeed a filthy habit. What I’m concerned with is the erosion of our right to indulge and destroy our bodies on our own volition. I don’t need a health board regulating what I can and can’t do because my neighbor believes it to be bad for me. And a smoker shouldn’t feel guilty about having a cigarette while waiting for a train or digesting a grease bomb from the fair. 
 And speaking of which, why isn’t the same anti-smoking crowd whining about the food their kids are eating at the fair? Why aren’t they concerned with the mass consumption of alcohol at the fair? I can hear their argument now: there is no such thing as second-hand intoxication (too bad there isn’t). To which I respond with two words: drunk driving. 
Man, I get so worked up about this, I think I’ll step out back and have a smoke.

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