Doing harm no right

    No long-lasting good comes from the inhalation of tobacco smoke nor the addiction to nicotine. Let those of us who are reasonable work together to eventually eliminate this destructive habit from our nation. Let us begin by banning smoking in all public places. Next let us work to protect the precious lungs of innocent children who are forced to breathe second-hand tobacco smoke by irresponsible parents in their homes and automobiles.
    Many will argue that they have the right to smoke. Let us not confuse "rights" with "freedoms." We may have the freedom to smoke tobacco, but that does not give us the right to do so. It is unreasonable to claim that one has the right to irresponsibly make bad choices.
    More people in this country die each year from tobacco-related illnesses than the total who have died from AIDS in the past ten years. Freedom does not give one the right to engage in a practice that has a high potential for personal harm. No one has the right to jeopardize the life, liberty, or pursuit of happiness of himself or others.
    It is a common misconception that Americans have the freedom to do anything we want. Actually, we have the freedom to do everything we ought. If we ignore responsibility, we will too often make the wrong choice. While one can argue that we have the freedom to make the wrong choice, too many wrong choices will result in the destruction of freedom. We have the responsibility to discover truths so that we can wisely make the right choices, thereby maintaining our freedoms in this nation.
    Responsibility must be considered a higher principle than freedom or none of us will be left with any freedoms. When people learn to make responsible choices, we will all benefit by having greater liberty.
    Be responsible and vote.

Michael S. Cole, M.D.
18 January 1994
Southwest Times Record