Thursday, June 19, 2008

Speak and Be Heard

A Letter to the Editor that I submitted to the Lincoln Times News was published on Monday (of course, I am just now reading the paper...). It was in response to a letter that appeared in the June 11th issue. Sadly, letters to the editor are not available on line so I can't show you the letter I was responding to, but in essence, the reader was complaining about the no-smoking-anywhere-on-school-property policy and what that might mean this fall during football games. He complained about the high cost of gas and having to drive off property just to have a simple smoke during the game and why couldn't he smoke in the end zone away from everybody else. In fact - he suggested that all smokers unite and gather in the end zone at one point to smoke in defiance of this policy which he felt was made in complete disregard for tobacco users everywhere.

Here's what I wrote and what was published on June 16th:

I would like to comment on Bill Auton’s letter published in the June 11th issue of the Lincoln Times News. First of all, I am an ex-smoker and I respect that the choice to smoke or not to smoke is a personal one. However where you smoke is not.

At heart, schools belong to the children who attend them – young, impressionable children who we want to protect from the well-known, scientifically documented, potentially lethal effects of smoking and second hand smoke. Can people really not sit through 4 quarters of a high school football game without having a cigarette? Furthermore, I hate to point out the obvious, but smoking continues to be outlawed in public places of all types throughout the world. Wikipedia has an entire list of smoking bans both in the United States as well as some 65 countries worldwide.

I’ll share a handful:
• According to the site, over 50% of Americans are covered by a ban ordinance of some degree.
• Twenty states have enacted total statewide smoking bans.
• Eleven states have enacted partial smoking bans.
• Bhutan is the only country in the world to have completely outlawed the sale of tobacco products.
• Beijing will implement a smoking ban for the Olympics.
• Cuba has banned smoking in most work places, cigarette machines removed and it has been illegal to sell tobacco products close to schools since 2005.
• Since 2007 smoking bans have been in effect across the whole of the UK.

It is only a matter of time before the North Carolina legislature enacts smoking bans in this state and to be honest, I can’t wait until they do. In the meantime, I applaud the county school board for their decision.

Sarah Paris
Lincolnton, NC

In other news, I think Marty found the hole in the fence and so Peanut and Buster have ended their chronic Harry Houdini routine.

And if that ain't country, I'll kiss your...