Warning: Antismokers Suffer From Sloppy Thinking and Bad Manners | Letters | Chicago Reader

Warning: Antismokers Suffer From Sloppy Thinking and Bad Manners 

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To the editors:

If your calendar editor wishes to be equitable, he could comment not only on the Benson and Hedges Blues Festival [October 12] but on the Prix de Martel, "sponsored by the substance implicated in 75% of the domestic violence in this country"; or the numerous events brought to you by the beer companies, "purveyors of the agent responsible for more teen deaths than anything except suicide."

I hold no stock in the tobacco companies--I don't even smoke anymore--but the level of self-righteousness in the anti-smoking movement really makes me tired. It's a perfect example of the "In Your Face" school of public policy, which regards it as appropriate conduct to interfere with legal activities of which we disapprove, to throw paint on people who wear fur and block access to abortion clinics.

Carrie Nation has been an object of ridicule for most of this century because she and her followers walked into bars and smashed bottles in their effort to outlaw alcohol. The temperance movement had an even more serious and valid purpose than the anti-smoking movement--trying to protect women against violence by their drunken partners--but ultimately we determined that even that juice wasn't worth the squeeze to our private rights.

Alcohol is both lethal and legal; the same is true of tobacco. It would be refreshing to encounter reportage which recognizes this equivalence. No one would think of treating an alcohol addict with the smug contempt routinely applied to nicotine addicts. Your editorial stance merely encourages people to continue to congratulate themselves on their ignorance and bad manners.

Kelly Kleiman

N. Seminary


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