Question of legality
Because of profession, experience, or good common sense, many people feel compelled to encourage healthy lifestyles. The most significant preventable cause of disease and death in this country is the inhalation of tobacco smoke by nicotine-addicted individuals.
The majority of Americans, fed up with high taxes, are becoming more and more insistent that all feasible measures be taken to control government spending. The amount of state and federal dollars spent annually to provide health care to Americans who habitually, actively damage their bodies is unacceptable.
When the evidence was clear that seat belt usage during auto accidents decreases the amount of money the government must spend for hospitalizations, rehabilitation, and disability, laws were passed making seat belt use mandatory.
The bottom line is not what saves lives, but how many dollars can be saved. Our society's understanding of this is reaching the point where cigarette smoking will not be legal. It would be different if smokers were affecting no one but themselves. Smokers expect treatment for illnesses that they caused by their irresponsible behavior. Since this treatment costs money that usually is coming out of someone else's pocket, tobacco smoking is no longer going to be tolerated.
Smoking has been a freedom. It was never a right. Smokers can whine and complain as much as they like, but the day will soon be here when any citizen may enter any restaurant and enjoy the full meal without being forced to breathe someone else's toxic fumes. The day will not come soon enough for most of us.
Michael S. Cole, M.D.
24 August 1991
Southwest Times Record