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Fresh Air For All
by Lallette Kistler


March 01, 2004

It's a free country, and all good Americans have a right to do as they please, but smoking is harmful. A recent Australian study shows that the nonsmoking section of a restaurant still gets half as much second-hand smoke as the smoking section. The smoke concentration in a crowded restaurant or bar is normally far worse than that of any polluting factory or highway. The fact that innocent bystanders are expected to quietly inhale toxic fumes is a astounding.

With my misfortune of being allergic to smoke, even a moderately smoky room can cause gagging and migraines. Non-smoking restaurants are the only sane choice, and venturing into a bar to enjoy some dancing or karaoke is suicide. Smokers will say, "Fine, stay home at night, eat at non-smoking restaurants and leave me alone, but, what about the poor employees?

Unskilled workers don't have a lot of choices, and feeding the kids becomes more important than their health. Even employee break-rooms can be worse than any bar, and if the break-room isn't smoky, there is a high likelihood that the back entryway is covered with a smoky haze. I know someone who was humiliated and ultimately fired because they finally refused to attend smoky manager meetings. People should not have to put up with inhaling carcinogens, just to pay their rent.

I don't know any smoker that would not like to quit. So, why don't we help them out? The longer a smoker has to go without a cigarette, the more beneficial it is for them and everyone around them. With a ban on public smoking we can all share a better quality of life, and spend less money on health care. Smokers can smoke to their hearts content in the privacy of their own homes, and public air can be left fresh and clean for everyone else.

If we get a borough-wide ban, it should not hurt local businesses. Non-smokers will go places they normally wouldn't, and smokers aren't going to stop going out. I would be ecstatic if I never had to smell another cigarette in my life. Dream on! But, if we start now, it is possible for future generations. I prefer that my grandchildren live in a place that does not condone air pollution. I want their children to have to ask them, "Mommy what's a cigarette?

Lallette Kistler
Ketchikan, AK - USA




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