Keep Your Eyes on the Prize

I can really be snide if I want to – I learned from the best! (my family)

But the wise  Mrs. Sensible Smoker always tells me, every time I come up with a real verbal zinger to vanquish some business or personal foe, “What do you want to accomplish? Do you want to express your anger or do you want to accomplish what you say you want to accomplish?”

I had to keep repeating that phrase to myself as I drove to the local public radio station to debate a tougher new smoking ban with an anti-smoking activist. A nice guy. Well meaning, nice-looking. Well-spoken – very adept with the talking points he had prepared.

He represented the radio audience – leftist, concerned with global warming, and riding a bicycle whenever possible, even in our near-constant rains. This was an audience that would reflexively vote for any smoking ban, without even knowing the details.

So I had to stay cool – not get angry, not be snide. Keep my eyes on the prize (votes for my side to defeat the tougher smoking ban).

These listeners largely support the city buying a Wellness Center for a small, local college that went bankrupt, an issue which is on the ballot along with the tougher smoking ban. I thought I would go with the “you have needs, we have needs” argument.

These were my talking points:


I’m going to vote for the Hames Center – probably never use

I support the needs of my neighbors – because of where I live.

I smoke – but I don’t go to bars. I haven’t been in the P-Bar or Ernie’s for years. I’ve been in the Moose once years ago for a wedding reception. I’ve never been in the American Legion. So, my interest is in the quality of community life, rather than a vested personal interest.

I think the proposed new law is very extreme and intolerant.

The present law already makes nearly every workplace in Sitka completely non-smoking.

I don’t think smokers have a right to smoke everywhere.

But I also don’t think that the most sensitive and most intolerant among us have the right to assume that every single public place is open to them.

I don’t like loud music. It hurts my ears. It may be damaging the hearing of every person who is there. But I don’t insist that no business be able to play loud music. I’m tolerant of other people’s needs.

Where’s the Beef?

Earlier this year, right here on Raven – the supporters of this more restrictive anti-smoking law invited Dr. Stanford Glanz –from UCSF Medical Center — said that adopting a comprehensive anti-smoking law would result in a drop in heart attacks due to exposure to secondhand smoke.

He said his newest figures now predicted a 17 percent drop in heart attacks the first year and 30 percent in the second.

Sitka has had a law that covers nearly every business in Sitka for five years now. Shouldn’t we have seen some of these results? Wouldn’t some medical people have noticed and publicized this, saying, “See the benefits of the law!”

My concern is that: if we do look at these heart attack rates now – we need to make sure to look at them for 2000 through 2010 (five years before the law to five years after). If you just count from 2005 to the present, you might be giving the original Sitka anti-smoking law credit for a trend that was already underway.

No Health Police

The bartenders didn’t ask for this and it is not right to make assumptions for them or to question their choices.

Confirms people’s fears that the new health care reform laws will be forced on them against their will.

If you’re worried about bar workers’ health, why not use some of the grant money to work with these four businesses to improve their air quality without completely banning smoking. That would make it better for everybody and I’m sure nobody would complain.

Mark Twain said it best “Nothing needs reforming so much as other people’s habits.”

There Is No Safe Level of Secondhand Smoke

This is one of those types of politically charged statements – like using “death tax” for the estate tax or Sarah Palin’s references to “death panels” – that is meant to scare you.

What they’re saying is “we can’t absolutely guarantee that you won’t die” if you’re exposed to this stuff.

But the same could be said of a lot of things.

There is no safe level of driving a car. You can be doing everything right and die from it.

There is no safe level of riding in a commercial jet.

There is no safe level of riding a bicycle.

Wisconsin and Michigan

Both just banned smoking cigarettes in any motel or hotel room.  The stated reason was to protect hotel maids – which is probably the first time in history anyone has ever worried about the working conditions of hotel maids.

This is unacceptable to smokers like me who like to do other things and smoke at the same time – like read or watch television or work at a computer.

I would not go to Wisconsin or Michigan – not that I was planning a trip. But I wouldn’t even drive through or take a plane that went through either state in case I got stuck there.

This is a logical extension of the law now being proposed.

I believe that intolerance in the service of good health does no one any favors.

Couldn’t they make an effort to air out smoking hotel rooms before cleaning them – smokers, I’m sure, would pay a premium.

20 percent of Americans smoke and many families contain at least one person who smokes.

Do you want them writing off Sitka as a vacation, business or convention destination that is intolerant of smokers?

And here’s the election forum.  A note: They had technical problems in their studio, so the recording is lousy. I sound like I’ve been smoking four packs a day for 15,000 years. In real life, I sound much younger.

Well? The election is Oct. 5. The Sensible Smoker will let you know if this did any good.

This entry was posted in Defending Rights, Mutual Understanding, Politics & Policy, Smoking Life and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.
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