David Lauderdale

Non-smokers don’t have to take it anymore

Warning: Your so-called right to smoke cigarettes around the rest of us is liable to die young.

A Beaufort County Council committee lit up a couple of smoldering arguments this week that are so old I think I’m suffering from second-hand bloviation. They got into the so-called rights of cigarette smokers vs. nonsmokers and the dreaded overreach of government into our private lives.

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They’re talking about requiring all institutions that receive county money to ban smoking on their premises, including the great outdoors and including places that are not county owned.

The whining has already started. But I say if the long arm of the nanny state is reaching out to snuff out cigarettes, we should all stand and salute.

Smokers have a right to smoke because cigarettes are still legal.

But that right stops at the end of the smoker’s nose.

As a colleague of mine who smokes put it, he has a right to poison himself but not to poison innocent bystanders.

And that’s why Big Brother should keep overreaching until smokers are confined to light up on their own property or the caves of Iwo Jima, whichever is less convenient.

I know too well the addictive power of cigarettes.

My dear mother-in-law, who smoked like a chimney until heroically quitting late in a life cut short by cigarettes, said there was nothing worse than an ex-smoker. No one is more sanctimonious and obnoxious about smoking, she said. As always, she was right, and I plead guilty.

My beautiful bride smokes. She says she does not smoke in the house, and I’m sure that’s the truth. Maybe every house on the block often reeks of Hawaiian Breeze or Spice Apple Magic air freshener.

My grandfather rolled his own Prince Alberts from the time he was a teenager until he died at age 76. He lived way out in the country, and when Grandmother would force him to quit smoking he got the mailman to deliver him cigarettes on the side. Granddaddy was sneaking cigarettes in the cancer ward in his final days.

Cigarettes took the life of my Uncle Tommy — another David Lauderdale the heart and soul of our family as well as the Westminster Schools where he taught in Atlanta. He was only 57.

I’ve seen the college newspapers of my parents’ era in the late 1940s, featuring ads with doctors giving testimonials to the health benefits of cigarettes.

My mother-in-law grew up in North Carolina, where smoking was seen as almost the patriotic thing to do.

But now we know it doesn’t have to be this way, and we don’t have to take it anymore. We’ve discovered that the tobacco companies knew very well how addictive and lethal the cigarettes were that they made seem so debonair.

And non-smokers certainly know they don’t have to breathe it anymore. The sooner that is universal, the better.

So if Beaufort County Council ends up overreaching to put out a few more cigarettes, call it a lucky strike.

David Lauderdale: 843-706-8115, @ThatsLauderdale

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