Smokers have no constitutional right to smoke

Brian Waldes

RE: The problem with smoking rests not with smokers (SDN Jan. 19)

Marc Carlisle’s column is so far off the mark it actually serves a purpose. Smokers, as a group, do not have “civil rights.”

Smokers are not, and could never be, a protected class under our constitution. That status is determined by meaningful principles, such as religious freedom and racial or gender equality. Someone who smokes a pack of Marlboros every day cannot run around whining about their “civil rights” being violated.

They choose to smoke, pure and simple. If someone wishes to deny them employment or health insurance because they choose to smoke, that is legally and philosophically sound. Encouraging people to break “no smoking” rules as an act of civil disobedience is ridiculous.

Is Mr. Carlisle implying that the “right to smoke” even remotely equates to civil rights for African Americans by encouraging smokers’ “civil disobedience?”

Give me a break. Mr. Carlisle’s sympathy for the poor smoker stuffed into one of those smoke rooms is entirely misplaced. The smoker does not have the right to smoke wherever they please. They have the right to smoke, and society has the right to restict that activity in public places.

Mr. Carlisle does make one good point. The goal of our society with regards to smoking should be to eliminate it all together. Smoking cannot be made illegal for myriad reasons, but, if smokers are forced out of more and more public locations, there will be less and less smokers.

I think it is naïve to believe the 40-something smoker will ever give up the habit, but hopefully we can reach the young people with the the message that smoking stinks, and, if you want to smoke, go hang out in the parking lot.

Mr. Carlisle did illustrate for the Summit Daily’s readers the misconception that there is such a thing as “smoker’s rights.” While his intentions seem to be in the right place, he is confused. I hope the Summit will publish this letter to clear up Mr. Carlisle’s misleading, uninformed, and potentially harmful statements.

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