Riding home in the 5:05 Metra commuter train from Chicago to Geneva, I glanced up to see the sign that said NO SMOKING. I’ve been a commuter long enough to remember when Smoking Cars were commonplace. Typically, they were the first two cars in line as you boarded the train.That way all those smokers would not die on the platform from congestive heart failure from having to walk too far. But we digress.
If you were a non-smoker that had the misfortune to find yourself sitting in the Smoking Car because there were no other seats on the train, you could count on smelling like an ash tray when you got off at your stop. And that was tough luck in the good old days. Because you know, people had the right to smoke back then.
The same situation reigned at the newspaper where I worked. All those hard-bitten journalists puffed on ciggies as they banged out stories about corrupt officials and sex-starved mayors. Or was it the other way around? Never mind, it’s all the same.
Smoking cigarettes and cigars was also allowed in any bar or restaurant you visited. Smokers dined with panache while they clogged up the air with glee and fervor. How was a little cigarette smoke going to harm anyone?
According to the Center for Disease Control, these are the harmful effects of secondhand smoke:
- Secondhand smoke causes numerous health problems in infants and children, including more frequent and severe asthma attacks, respiratory infections, ear infections, and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).1,4
- Smoking during pregnancy results in more than 1,000 infant deaths annually.4
- Some of the health conditions caused by secondhand smoke in adults include coronary heart disease, stroke, and lung cancer.1,
So it’s hardly a Pro-Life stance to defend public smoking. The fact that people are willing to kill themselves by smoking in their own homes or driving around in their cars is obviously a matter of private fatalism. It’s true that the United States Constitution does not ban people from engaging in habits so deadly they can result in death.
But it does not guarantee that people can cause other people harm through their own stupid habits.
Which is why that darned research about the health effects of “second-hand smoke” was used to ban smoking in public places. People had a right to question whether it was reasonable to be forced to breathe the cancer-causing smoke of people who smoked in public place.
And thus the move to ban public smoking began.
It didn’t take long for smoking bans to spread throughout the nation. Even our local Zanie’s Comedy Club hosted a Smoke-Free Comedy Night. I know this for a fact, because I hosted and promoted the smoke-free evenings. It wasn’t a bust, but it was hardly a success either. The comedians complained that the crowds were harder to entertain, and house bartenders complained that non-smokers didn’t drink that much.
Smokers found little humor outside the realm of indoor arenas either. Smoking at work became taboo, leading to groups of smokers huddled outside in the freezing cold or blazing heat to suck on their ciggies. Smokers have been chased to the corners of society by the health-conscious concerns of political liberalism.
But all that might be changing very soon. The politically correct world of smoking bans could very well be overturned by Donald Trump and his minions. All those smoking regulations might succumb to the anti-government movement led by Donald Trump and that snarky little Ayn Rand puppet Paul Ryan.
Smokers could well be the next faction to demonstrate against the restriction of freedoms forced upon them by liberals. We could soon see memes of Jesus holding a cigarette in one hand and a Bible in the other.”JESUS I COULD USE A SMOKE! NIKE MISSILE TRUMP SAYS JUST DO IT!”
Brain dead and proud of it
That’s about the level of intellect engaged in most of the public policymaking going on these days. It’s braindead conservatism run amok. If it’s education you hate, go ahead and gut the Department of Education by installing a religious nutcase who thinks enforcing prayer in public schools is better than teaching biology. And as Steve “Darkness is Good” Bannon loves to claim, it’s all about turning government inside out.
And the results of the Trump administration so far resemble the inside-out product of a prolapsed uterus. Millions of American will soon be cast out of their health insurance plans like aborted fetuses from the womb of conservative doctrine. It turns out the GOP is not so Pro-Life as it loves to claim. Just lump those pesky people with pre-existing conditions into a “high-risk” pool and be done with them. No different than drowning baby rabbits in an aquarium. It takes a truly braindead politician not to realize that healthcare coverage is a complicated issue.
Not dead yet
Yet the move to liberate smokers from public bans seem to line up perfectly with other Trump efforts to relax regulations about public health and welfare. For example, Trump and his anti-government buddies plan to gut the EPA. That’s the government agency that has acted in the public’s interest to reduce air and water pollution since the early 1970s. It has accomplished great things such as reducing the release of toxic metals into the air, water and soil.
But according to Trump and company, those are trifles compared with the benefits of employing a few hundred more workers in polluting industries. It’s all about “Make America Gasp Again!” That should be the Trump motto.
Because without the EPA’s enforcement of environmental laws, polluters will be free to release toxins of all sorts into the air and water. Already the coal industry has won the right to dump toxic tailings closer to streams and rivers. What possible harm could come of that? Aren’t coal miners good people?
Good people. Bad ideas.
Plenty of smokers are good people too. But their habits are definitely harmful to other people who are forced to breathe the toxic product of their filthy habits. As a runner for 50 years I’ve somehow managed to avoid the need for nicotine. Yet people who daily suck on cigarettes seem to think they are indispensable to their purpose in life. About 20% of Americans still smoke. I consider them all dumb shits, and unapologetically so.
I think the same of the 43% of the American population who still think Donald Trump deserves a favorable rating as President. It’s all proof that otherwise smart people can choose to do really stupid things and make really stupid choices.
Smoking causes cancer, and Donald Trump is a cancer in the politics of America. Which means one can fully expect the Trumpster to life all smoking bans sooner than later.