Letter: Smokers not oppressed

By The Daily Illini

In a recent letter (Nov. 19), Dan Sullivan made the outrageous claim that banning smoking in bars is “no different than asking someone to sit in the back of the bus because they are black.”

There is a world of difference between belonging to an ethnic group by birth, and choosing to smoke. African Americans deserve equal rights because as human beings they are entitled to participate in our community equally. Smokers are simply people who have chosen to smoke, and because of that they must accept responsibility for the public health consequences of their decision.

Sitting next to an African American on a bus is in no way harmful. But breathing second-hand smoke has been linked in study after study to serious health problems. Non-smokers have the right to patronize bars and to be protected from this harm.

Sullvian also equates smoking with excessive drinking, but the analogy is specious, because if I drink excessively, it does not have negative health consequences for the people in the room with me.

Smoking cessation products are readily available, and any smoker can do the math and see that they will save money and protect their health and the health of people around them by quitting smoking now. Nicotine is probably the most addictive drug legally available, so it’s incredibly hard to quit, but the alternative is to needlessly place people in harm’s way.

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Joe Futrelle

University employee