Smoking ban doesn’t take away rights, it gives them

Published 10:41 am Friday, June 28, 2013

Every summer, my mom and dad and brother and I would load up in the van and head out for the Wild West – Texas.

That’s where Daddy is from and we’d spend our vacations going to see our kinfolk “out that way.” The trip took about 14 hours from start to finish and we’d usually drive straight through.

Just about 30 minutes into the ride, Dad would light up a cigarette. He’d crack the window a tad, but it wouldn’t help much. The car filled up with smoke.

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Just as it began to air out, smoke would begin again. As a kid, I didn’t realize that’s why my eyes watered and I felt sick on the trips.

We got a little reprieve when we found out Justin had asthma and was allergic to cigarette smoke. Dad would try to hold off on his smoking until we made a stop for a bathroom break.

When I was about 24, working at a newspaper in Destin, I almost lost my dad. His smoking had paved the way for heart failure, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and other complications. He has a pacemaker and tires a lot easier than he used to. It’s frustrating for him. I can see it on his face and hear it in his voice.

My father’s parents died of cancer. His brother died of cancer. All used tobacco products.

As an adult, I vowed there would be no smoking in my car, in my house, or in or around anything else I owned.

That’s why I am proud of the City of Troy’s decision to ban smoking in public places. It’s not because I disagree with the freedom to choose what is best for each of us, it’s because of the infringement of rights on others. Going into a business, I or any other non-smoker, shouldn’t have to pass through a cloud of smoke to get there. I think designated smoking areas are fine. And personal choice is great.

But exposing children to smoke at ballparks is not OK. Exposing pregnant women to smoke at outdoor events is not OK. Your rights end where mine begin and we’ve got to make a compromise on this issue.

I don’t buy into the idea of some comments I’ve seen on the smoking ban such as, “If you don’t like the smoke you don’t have to go.”


Everyone should be allowed to go wherever they want in public without fear of someone harming them. That’s what smoking does. It’s harmful. The smoking ordinance still allows designated areas for smokers away from smoke-free areas. I’m not sure how anyone can argue it’s not fair. It’s simply making public areas accessible to everyone while still allowing smokers to snag a few puffs, if they want.

What we choose for ourselves is our business. However, what we choose to expose others to in public places is public business – and the City of Troy is taking care of that business.

I appreciate that our city council has taken a step so many other cities – such as Washington, D.C., Auburn, Gulf Shores, and Austin, Texas – already have to enable everyone to breathe some smoke-free air.

Thank you for holding your ground.