Thursday, March 25, 2010

Up In Smoke

Some days, hearing the latest news just angers me. Today is one of those days.

A Florida jury awarded $26.6 million to a smoker's widow. The widow's husband died of lung cancer.

I am outraged that she was awarded this money. She knew the hazards of marrying someone with a smoking habit. Plus, he was a grown-up and made his own choices - he chose to smoke, knowing there could be consequences. So, why should R.J. Reynolds and Philip Morris have to pay?

The truth is, they shouldn't.

I am not a smoker, nor do I think smoking is a smart choice for anyone. But the fact remains: one of the industries that helped America flourish is the tobacco industry. Years ago, we were all over smoking like white on rice. Then it was identified as having certain health risks, and slowly but surely tobacco became the scourge of the nation.

I'm not sure why we, as a nation, have come to vilify tobacco use while we stand up and cheer for legalized marijuana usage. We also stand idly by while our children are over diagnosed with ADD or ADHD and filled with Ritilin. We tout the wonders of alcohol. We ruin our hearing with loud music through our ear buds. We drink water filled with plasticized toxins from clear plastic bottles. We push to get drugs passed quickly through the FDA, apparently not learning anything from drugs like Fen-Fen and Thalidomide.

Believe me, I'm not condoning tobacco use. In fact, my mom died from emphysema. However, I do believe in her right to choose. She chose to smoke. She enjoyed it. She decided to quit a few years ago, and still got sick. Her last months were not fun for her. This I know. But, it was her right to choose how to live, even if it contributed to how she died.

What I do condone, promote and celebrate is our right as a nation to choose. My "drug" of choice is alcohol. I am not a lush or an alcoholic. But when I want to unwind, I turn to a glass of wine or a bottle of beer. Sometimes I choose a a healthier option: walking. Yoga. Reading. A bath. But yes sometimes I do the easy thing and pour a glass of wine.

Smokers' rights are pretty much non-existent at this point in time. As a nation, we have hammered down one of the industries that provided a lot of jobs to our country. A smoker should have rights. They should be able to smoke if they want to. The thing is, it is getting harder and harder for smokers to smoke - even in their very own homes.

I find this fact abhorrent.

We silently cheer the fact that they can't smoke. Yay! we say, as we enjoy our smokeless environment. But what many people don't realize is that by allowing the government to dictate what smokers are able, or rather not able, to do, we are giving them permission to take away more of our rights.

We say "Yay" now, but how will we react when rights that hit closer to home are taken away? Or will we even notice? I'm afraid by the time rights that are near and dear to our hearts are taken away, we'll be so used to the government taking things away that we'll be numb to it.

So to all you sheeple out there who think this broad deserved 26.6 million dollars, I tell you this: you just opened up another door to frivolous action suits and your idle apathy is slowly erasing our right to choose. To that I say, you are all a bunch of robotic morons and are screwing it up for those of us who fought hard to keep America an independent nation.

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