News from the Tennessee Valley Columnists


I still remember that secondhand smoke

Itís debatable whether my first job in high school was more dangerous to me or the customer.

As a part-time worker at the former Pineview Hospital Psychiatric Unit, I drove vanloads of patients to weekly Alcoholics Anonymous meetings in Cullman.

Two things stand out in memory.

Memory No. 1: The old 12-step gang used to joke about their lives depending on a designated driver who wasnít old enough to shave.

Memory No. 2: There was enough secondhand smoke to kill a village.

So you might say we were even.

When people ask what I think about Decaturís looming ban on smoking in public places, I think back to those smoky AA gatherings, where everyone introduced themselves by first name only.

I wonder if itís possible to conduct a smoke-free AA meeting?

The two addictions have a few things in common. Most alcoholics keep drinking for the same reason smokers keep smoking. They havenít found a way to quit.

While this should illicit sympathy, it doesnít mean that the law shouldnít protect us from the actions of people who suffer from addictions.

By reading recent letters to the editor, itís clear that people can find good reasons to justify both sides of the smoking issue.

One person argues that the government shouldnít tell business owners what to do. Another asks whatís the difference between regulating smoke and dictating food-handling policies — theyíre both health issues.

Itís a free country, one person argues. Until one personís freedom infringes upon another person.

If people donít want to inhale smoke, they can avoid places that allow it. Yes, but what about the nonsmokers who work there?

These debates are interesting and healthy for us all. Healthier than smoking.

Hereís the way I look at it.

We know more now than we did before.

For the same reason we no longer let teenagers drive groups of people in a commercial vehicle, we shouldnít expose nonsmokers to secondhand smoke.

Scott Morris is managing editor.

Scott Morris Scott Morris
DAILY City Editor

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