Surgeon General's Warning: The Days of Smoking Outside the Home Are Numbered

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Today Surgeon General Richard Carmona released a new report on the health hazards of secondhand smoke. It is the first S.G. report devoted to secondhand smoke in two decades, and it says pretty much what the last one did: This stuff is deadly and should be banned wherever politically feasible.

The basic scientific issues, which the report discusses and dismisses, also remain the same: Granted that tobacco smoke is dangerous in high enough doses, how high is high enough? Given the limitations of epidemiology and the difficulty of measuring low-level risks, that question probably will never be answered definitively. It is, in any case, ultimately irrelevant to the policy question: Granted that people want to avoid tobacco smoke, whether because of the immediate smell and discomfort or because they're worried about long-term health consequences, what should the government do about it? In tomorrow's USA Today, I'm scheduled to make the case (very briefly) for choice and diversity rather than a single, government-imposed solution–a case I also made here, here, and here, among other places. This time for sure…

NEXT: 18 Months Missing from Merck Tape

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  1. 3,000 deaths a year from lung cancer that is directly attributable to secondhand smoke? Now I need to look for that “Name Three” article.

  2. Considering how ubiquitous public smoking was from the 20s through at least the 70s, if secondhand smoke were as dangerous as they say wouldn’t the majority of Americans above the age of 30 have lung cancer by now?

  3. My grandma living in the constant presence of tobacco smoke from my chain-smoking grandpa for over 50 years, yet she lived to 95.

    However, using logic in this argument isn’t the point. They’re going for appeals to emotion, and real life facts and figures are just barking up the wrong tree.

  4. The basic scientific issues, which the report discusses and dismisses

    I challenge someone to debunk this statement, because, HOLY CRAP!, I sure don’t have the time to pour through this 709 page report in any depth.

  5. Boy, so today we have:

    1) Pseudo-science against smoking, doubtlessly leading to more regulations

    2) An attack on food

    3) And a likely flag-burning amendment, shredding the First Amendment worse than BICRA did to it already

    I hope alcohol’s not next, ’cause I require a drink!

  6. Facts have nothing to do with this issue. This is one of dozens of issues where people see no intervening step between the determination that “I do not like [fill in blank]” and “There should be a law criminalizing [fill in blank].” Many people do not like secondhand smoke, therefore it goes without saying that the government should involve itself in limiting secondhand smoke. The reality is, a majority of even heavy smokers avoid cancer and other serious diseases. They have a significantly increased risk of certain diseases, obviously, but drawing comparisons between the level of risk for smokers directly inhaling pack after pack of smokes every day and those who smell smoke in a restaurant is absurd.

  7. I have observed the smoking ban proponents over the years with amusement. Many of them will go to their favorite eateries and watering holes to booze and calorically infuse themselves to wretched excess. But let one idiot bent on fucking up his lungs with tobacco smoke get within a hundred yards of them, and they demand government protection. It seems to me the marketplace works pretty well, providing plenty of venues for those who want to avoid second-hand smoke. I wonder what some of these health Nazis would do if they were told they couldn’t drive their SUV’s within 25 feet of another human?

  8. I suppose now, it’s inevitable.

    But I wonder: once smoking in public is outlawed completely, will smokers finally be left alone to stew in their own pollution? Or will they continue to push to outlaw cigarettes altogether? The future will be telling.

  9. Or will they continue to push to outlaw cigarettes altogether?

    Outlawed altogher. It’s for the children…

  10. I like the smell of cigarette smoke until it fills up a room and turns it into LA on a hot August afternoon under the inversion layer.

    I also like a smoke free dining experience, but I think it’s strange to be in a bar where nobody is allowed to smoke.

    I hate the whole second hand smoke crap, it makes me want to barf (or perk up a stogie and blow smoke rings at the nannies).

    Not going back to the beach. Boo frikkin’ hoo.

  11. linguist,

    Adding one more opponent to the War on Drugs shouldn’t be a big deal, right?

  12. Linguist,
    But I wonder: once smoking in public is outlawed completely, will smokers finally be left alone to stew in their own pollution? Or will they continue to push to outlaw cigarettes altogether?

    Umm, the air is publicly owned you know. There are a number of cities (mostly in California right now) that prohibit smoking in open spaces or anywhere smoke may enter an open window or vent. I am waiting for the first person to be fined for smoking in his house, with an open window, where smoke just so happens to be convected out and in through the open window of a nearby neighbor. Wait for the SCOTUS to rule on that one!

  13. You know what the problem with smoking is? It fucking stinks, that’s what.

    I ride the bus into the city to work and if some smoker sits down next to me (they always smoke until the bus comes) I end up smelling like smoke too. Usually for at least an hour. And I don’t want to because like it or not, in America, smoking is viewed as a character flaw. It’s really no different then going into a public restroom and having some idiot give you a smear of his stool.

    Smoke stinks. Smokers stink. And those unwillingly subjected to second-hand smoke, unfortunately stink too.

    I’d ask all smokers to kiss my ass, but then my ass would smell like smoke.

  14. FYI,
    Anybody in the Anchorage, Alaska area around the end of July that wants to participate in a protest against a city wide smoking band feel free to email me for info.

  15. Smoke stinks. Smokers stink. And those unwillingly subjected to second-hand smoke, unfortunately stink too.

    The same holds true for people with sloppy personal hygiene, but that doesn’t mean the government has any business passing laws regarding bathing habits and soap usage.

  16. Thanks for the comment, Mark! I’m sure you stink after working out, so we should ban gyms and discourage fitness! And fat people should be coerced into smelling better. Anybody hate getting off the New Jersey Transit and smelling like burnt curry and garlic mash? Most importantly, Mark, why are your friends smoking out of their asses?

  17. aww mark we love you nannies too. but go practice your little odor discrimination routine in another country. i’m sure you guys would like to shut down industrial society since it stinks as well, right?

  18. In my experience, the biggest non-smoking facists are former smokers themselves. For some reason, they feel the need to convince other smokers to see the light, by force if necessary.

    That, and it bugs them to no end to see someone enjoying a smoke because it is a pointed reminder that they used to enjoy it, too.

  19. In my experience, the biggest non-smoking facists are former smokers themselves.

    Just wanted to say that I am a former smoker, but totally non-fascist about it.

    Actually, I’m not an ex-smoker so much as I am a smoker on hiatus. Once I buy a house and am making fixed mortgage payments rather than rent, I am buying some cigarettes.

    Mmmm. Cigarettes.

  20. For some relatively interesting data in this report, check around p434 of Chapter 7. It is a summary of the relative risks (RR) for various types of second-hand smoke (SHS) exposure. Unless I am mistaken, an RR of 1.00 means no additional risk relative to control.

    As you read this section, you will note that the RR of lung cancer for workers with high SHS exposure have RR’s around 1.2-1.25 on average. Most of the data is for lung cancer, a disease strongly related to smoking (smokers have an RR of something like eight, I believe).

    Even under some pretty extreme circumstances (living with a smoker, working in a smoky bar, etc) one’s chance of getting lung cancer only increases 25%. That is a bad thing, of course, but assuredly is a much smaller risk than that bartender takes driving to work every day.

    The dangers of SHS are real – they are just small. So small, in fact, that they are deserving of little or no government regulation. If the government were to regulate everything else that is as risky as SHS, there would be little left unregulated.

  21. I ride the bus into the city to work and if some smoker sits down next to me (they always smoke until the bus comes) I end up smelling like smoke too. . . It’s really no different then going into a public restroom and having some idiot give you a smear of his stool.

    Except for the part about being in actual contact with someone else’s poisonous fecal matter. Somehow, I suspect that if you had the option of either sitting next to a smoker or getting shit smeared on you, you’d discover that there is a difference after all.

  22. Okay, since Jennifer went on the record, so will I. I don’t smoke tobacco, never have. I was raised in a smoking household and personally I can’t stand the smell of cigarettes or cigars. Pipe tobacco seems sweet smelling and I can tolerate it but it isn’t something I choose to be around. I spend my money in non-smoking bars and restaurants and that is how I would like to see things regulated, with my money and not government intervention. Smokers deserve to have a place to eat too!

  23. This report apparently claims that simply walking through a cloud of smoke ONE TIME can be potentially health threatening.

    If second-hand smoke is that deadly, I’d better become a smoker: those guys at least seem to get a couple of good decades of smoking in: none of this, inhale once and die stuff.

  24. Oh, Jennifer, you’re in for a big surprise. Your mortgage payments, fixed or no, will be much, much higher then your rent. And when your plumbing goes kaput, guess who pays for it?

    On the other hand, I do like the appreciation this dump has earned.

  25. I was raised in a smoking household and personally I can’t stand the smell of cigarettes or cigars.

    I was the same way. Every time my mom lit up I started to stew. If it weren’t for the fact that our dope supply ran out and my best friend and I started smoking instead (this was in my 2nd year of college), I would probably now be one of those annoying people who has to wave their hand in front of their scrunched-up nose whenever they pass by a person smoking.

  26. broke-ass homeowner,
    Oddly, I purchased a house specifically because it was cheaper than renting. Granted, it was a fixer upper in a not yet great neighborhood but even with a 20yr fixed @ 8%, rent in that same area for the same tract houses was 20%-30% more a month.

  27. Rhywun,
    Oh, I have no problems waving my hands to deflect smoke from my face, nor moving away from somebody who lights up. In my house, you take it outside. I just don’t see where it is any of my business telling a business owner how to run his shop.
    I worked for Wal-Mart a few years back. For all of it’s flaws one of the nifty things they did was install a “Smoking Room” in the break room. It had its own ventilation, windows and TV. Unless you were standing right by the entrance as somebody opened the door you’d never smell a bit of smoke. The city passed a no-smoking ordinance that banned even that from the premises. Now the smokers have to go outside, in front of the store in all types of weather.
    I personally will only support restaurants or bars that either have a definate ‘non-smoking’ section or are entirely non-smoking but to tell business owners that they HAVE to descriminate against a segment of customer is just retarded.

  28. Of course smoking in the house is next. This ain’t rocket surgery folks.

    First its hashish, then

    hoagers, then

    happy meals, then

    hookers

    (I threw the last one in just because it started with an ‘h’)

  29. Except for the part about being in actual contact with someone else’s poisonous fecal matter.

    Nice but shit smeared on you is not what we’re talking about and you picked that out of Mark’s example because it was low hanging fruit. With the force involved of course we would rather sit next to a smoker than have anything smeared on us. We have rights to our own bodies and all that. Your example is like me asking you if you’d rather sit next to a farmer who just got done fertilizing his field or a smoker who forces you to hold his cigarette up to your nose. And the dried in fecal matter on the hypothetical farmer is not harmful to you in any meaningful way as anyone who has ever worked on a farm or in a sewer will tell you. So can the “poisonous” act. It’s all in the dose. In fact, if you want to be pedantic about it, light poo contact is less harmful than breathing in second hand cigarette smoke. Neither matter in any kind of long term health scenario.

    So let’s remove the force involved in your example and the BS long term health implications and say there’s a new fad in town: rolling around in nature’s own energy extract – fertilizer. It’s the fifties and all the sophisticated people do it. It’s the perfect accompaniment to a good night of shagging. And now you’re on a bus, sitting next to an average person who has obviously just gotten through with a good roll. The smell sticks in your throat. You cough. No one gives a shit. Your sinuses swell up with mucus and you blow your nose every 30 seconds. “Is anything the matter?” “Yeah, you smell like shit.” If this happened to you, Jennifer, you’d jump off that high horse in an instant. You’d say “They can do whatever they want in their own homes. They can have their own privately owned poo rolling restaurants if they want. But I want to be able to ride the bus without having to cough a lung up.”

    The moral of this story is you grossly underestimate the effects of cigarette smoke (and we should remove government from transporation – I know, I know) because you don’t mind it, are used to it and probably have had some cool conversations with cool people who were also doing it. Well, sewer workers get used to their jobs too. The nose adapts. Both of us are going to agree that we get to smell however we want in our own home or a privately run smoking only establishment. But just like your right to move your fist ends at my nose – your right to smell like shit ends at what it’s doing to the back of my throat.

    And another thing, since I’m pointlessly rambling anyway, what the fuck is with cigarette smoking? What’s the point? If you want to get high or supress your appetite there are many ways to do it that don’t involve a burning, fire-starting cylinder that clouds up a room, prevents you from doing anything with your dominant hand and ends up as disgusting trash on my lawn.

  30. Lincoln, it is all about balance. As for the health effects of SHS, this report makes it clear that they are very small – 25% increases in a number of diseases for people with extremely high exposures (compared with 500% or more increases for the smokers themselves), and precious little evidence of any effect of occasional, casual exposure. Even if there is an effect, common sense would indicate it more-or-less scales with exposure, so we are talking about tiny increases in risk. The report, in a fit of hysteria, often repeats the general refrain of “cannot COMPLETELY eliminate the risk” or its variants, which I find deceptive. Zero-tolerance is childishness.

    The bigger issue with SHS is actually what you point out – annoyance. We ban all sorts of annoying behaviors, depending on circumstance. I should not be able to smoke on the bus for the same reason that I should not be able to play my radio or horse around (and for the love of God, why can’t we be like most other countries and ban yapping on cell phones!). We also have noise ordinances that apply to private property.

    Annoyance, however, does not extend to private property – you do not have a right to be NOT annoyed in someone else’s kingdom. Also, you have to set a minimum tolerance for annoyance. Yelling on the bus might be banned, but casual talking should not. Likewise, smoking should be banned, but you are just going to have to tough it up if the mere smell of stale smoke gives you fits. As it is for health, a zero-tolerance policy for annoyance is just as unworkable.

  31. In my experience, the biggest non-smoking facists are former smokers themselves.

    A classic case of the Zeal of the Converted. If someone gives up X for reason Y, they will continually need to re-justify that decision to themselves. And seeing others still doing X with full knowledge of Y doesn’t help that.

  32. Somebody save me from myself. Two years of living in Mexico and smoking $2 packs of Camels – not to metion the complete lack of smoking bans – must be sending me straight to hell.

  33. My town, Santa Cruz CA, banned smoking outdoors in public places where people congregate in close proximity: lines for movies and restaurants, for example. Also on the beach, I believe. The nearby Beach Boardwalk amusement zone, though privately owned, has banned smoking outdoors. At one of their Friday night concerts recently, a guest of ours was told — ultimately by Boardwalk security — that she couldn’t smoke even outside. State law already prohibits smoking INDOORS in public buildings or “places of public accommodation,” whether publicly or privately owned and operated.

    The noose is tightening, and I am a witness. I don’t smoke, don’t like smoking, and would prefer that people not smoke around me. But calling the law on smokers is going to far, in my opinion. The Surgeon General’s declaration that “secondhand smokme is bad, mmmm’kay?” does not pass the “common sense” test. Although it is possible that some people have increased susceptibility and sensitivity to tobacco smoke, the FACT is that most people are made of hardier stuff, as evidenced by their abilities to deal with pollutants that are MUCH worse than secondhand smoke. What next? Will we outlaw peanunts and wheat products because some people are overly sensitive to them?

    Good luck, Jacob.

  34. Smoking has been and always will be cool because it’s pointless and dangerous. Punks who want to live forever make me sick.

    The only thing that bothers me about smoking these days is that with the high taxes and shortened life expectancy (less medicare and social security) smokers are actually net contributors to the welfare state. Yes, smokers are enablers of the therapeutic state despite their highly admirable death wish.

    Sorry if it offends some of y’all, but I think I’ll burn one right now.

  35. What’s after this? Vegans that want to ban backyard barbeques because the smell of cooking meat wafting onto their property offends them?

    In my experience, the biggest non-smoking facists are former smokers themselves.

    They’re still too weak to resist the temptation. However, if you’ve really quit smoking, having smokers around shouldn’t make having a cigarette tempting. I quit in December 2004 and can manage to have gobs of smokers around me without a problem. I even smoked one cigarette a day for three days just to test myself while in PR and had no trouble staying “in control”.

    In this context:
    A RR of 1.00 mean no differce in risk.
    A negative RR indicates a benefit.

    A RR of 1.25 means nothing in particular for risk and the ratios magnify the numbers. What’s 1.25 x 0.001 or some other minute number? Still a minute quantity. So in a control group of 100 people you could have, say, four get the disease and in a group of 100 that are exposed five would get the disease to get a RR of 1.25. The absolute numbers are not very different.

    First hand smoke carried a RR for lung cancer, if I rember correctly, of about 40. Quite a difference wouldn’t you say?

    A RR of 2.00 used to be the benchmark but then that standard would make bunk out most of today’s health scares. The epidemiologist will just lower the criteria until the they say their hypothesis is supported.

  36. Uh, excuse my ignorance and lack of googling before posting, but…

    AC, what is this “name three” article?

    (I’m hoping it isn’t really obvious – this would be the place to insert the disclaimer I’ve had 2 beers and 3 or 4 cigarettes tonight)

  37. I googled…when someone says X thousand people died of Y, you say “name three”, and they get mad that you questioned the numbers they pulled out their arses.

    I’ll have to remember that. Like I’ll even remember this post:)

  38. Mark, no, no, NO. The public rest room part is right on though. Why can’t those guys who sound like they’re dying in the stall do that stuff at home? The noxious cloud, the noises they make, omigod. I think public pooping should be banned. Got dam it, didn’t anyone teach them the three S routine of hygiene (shit, shower, & shave)? Do that at home.

    And don’t get me started on the perfume hags. I’m allergic to half that crap. As long as those women are allowed to waft in public then smokers should get to light up wherever they want.

  39. Big Big Slacker.

    Name three? Screw that, I want the whole list. I’m really keen on seeing the list of those who succumbed to second hand smoke.

  40. TWC,

    I know. Has a death certificate ever read “Cause of death: Passive Smoking”. EVER?

    While there may be 25% “excess” deaths of those who participated in “the studies”, I imagine they can’t answer which ones in the group actually had problems related to passive smoking since even the exposure groups contain individuals (likely equal in number to the controls that got sick) whos’ problems were from causes other than 2nd hand smoke.

  41. Tonight’s ABC News ran an article (i.e. puff piece) on the report, citing assorted stats therefrom without a single dissenting opinion. Then came the classic line from Lisa Stark (paraphrased from memory): “And so far only fourteen states have passed legislation to protect non-smokers.”

    Naaaaaaaaah, no bias there…

  42. I gave the study a quick skimming over and noticed several mentions of the well-known (and discredited ) 1993 EPA study on secondhand smoke. I saw no acknowledgement in the report of the controversy surrounding the EPA study, nor did I see in the report any attempt to respond to the EPA’s critics.

    Like I said, I just gave the study a quick look, but you would think the Surgeon General would devote some serious space to the EPA flap – especially since he’s citing it in his own report.

  43. If you read what Carmona says, the days of smoking indoors (meaning Your Own Home) are apparently numbered too. It’s “for the children.” And children will be defined as up to age 21. And so indeed are the days of smoking Outdoors– like office doorways and streets, which he specifically mentions.

    And not just-by-the-way, that +25% is straight out of the hat. The EPA report achieved 1.19 (+19%) but only by lowering the customary standards. The rest of the stuff is cherry-picked, meta-analyzed and then statistically massaged to get the “desired” results.

    Seems like the whole scare has been a social experiment– can barrages of propaganda manufacture a new hate– and the answer’s resoundingly Yes!

  44. So, in order to hold true to the reason why smoking outdoors must be banned, I suppose it’s goodbye to backyard grilling, campfires, leaf burning, etc…um..if my house catches fire and burns to the ground, will I be arrested?

  45. I can’t see how they could rationally ban smoking anywhere they allow diesel engines to be run, which is pretty much everywhere outside.

  46. if my house catches fire and burns to the ground, will I be arrested?

    only if you have an american flag in it.

  47. Jim W,

    NBC led their show with this story. Brian Williams’s breathless, triumphant lead-in and the ensuing video orgy of present and past surgeons general in their geeky pseudo-military uniforms was truly nauseating. And no, not a single dissenting opinion was heard there either.

    Oddly, over at CBS, the story had to wait till after the first commercial, when it was given just a couple sentences, no video, and dismissed without the hoopla of a parade and brass band. For a few seconds I was rather proud of CBS…

  48. Tobacco is a mild anti-depressant.

  49. Considering how ubiquitous public smoking was from the 20s through at least the 70s, if secondhand smoke were as dangerous as they say wouldn’t the majority of Americans above the age of 30 have lung cancer by now?

    Like WMD’s in Iraq, we know you have it but we just haven’t found it yet.

    All part of America’s War On Imperfection.

  50. Thank you Lincoln. My former spouse was asthmatic and just the slightest bit of smoke could land her in the ER.

    – Mark

  51. Tobacco is a mild anti-depressant.

    Mild?

  52. lol

    “puff piece” 🙂

  53. Thank you Lincoln. My former spouse was asthmatic and just the slightest bit of smoke could land her in the ER.

    And of course, the purpose of government is to make sure everybody’s behavior conforms to the needs of the weakest members of the herd.

    My boyfriend is allergic to lilacs. People who grow such flowers in their yards, or wear the perfume or use the scented soap, must be stopped, for the benefit of all Americans with lilac allergies.

  54. God forbid people with allergies or asthma learn to carry and use things like epi-pens and other medical devices. No, no, it’s much easier to whine to the government to change the whole damned world to conform to your needs.

  55. God forbid people with allergies or asthma learn to carry and use things like epi-pens and other medical devices. No, no, it’s much easier to whine to the government to change the whole damned world to conform to your needs.

    Ever hear of the golden rule?

    Please explain your apparent support for the selfish inconsideration of your fellow man.

    PS Given your logic, why should women have been given the vote? I mean they were just a bunch of helpless whining women, right?

  56. Please explain your apparent support for the selfish inconsideration of your fellow man.

    Actually, my supposed “selfishness” in demanding such people carry epi-pens is actually an attempt to keep the poor devils alive.

    Suppose you have a child whom you love and want to see grow up into a successful happy adult. Unfortunately, this child has some severe allergies; one whiff of a cigarette or something fried in peanut oil will kill her in two minutes if she doesn’t get the proper treatment. As a loving, responsible parent trying to increase your kid’s chance of survival, what do you do:

    A. Make sure your child always carries an epi-pen or something similar, and knows how to use it; or,

    B. Try to make sure everybody your child might ever possibly come in contact with is completely free of cigarette smoke or peanut-oil residue?

    To put it another way: do you tell your child that dealing with her affliction is her responsibility, or do you tell her “don’t worry, the rest of the world will go out of its way to take responsibility for your health problems?” Which kid is most likely to live long enough to die of old age?

  57. Now the smokers have to go outside, in front of the store in all types of weather.

    The better to heap scorn upon them.

    what the fuck is with cigarette smoking?

    What the fuck business is it of yours?

  58. Jennifer,

    My former spouse ALWAYS carried an inhaler. She also took medication. But I guess what she really should have done is never leave the house so as not to create a conflict for people that smoke. But then that’s why I divorced her — she was so damned selfish.

  59. My former spouse ALWAYS carried an inhaler. She also took medication. But I guess what she really should have done is never leave the house so as not to create a conflict for people that smoke.

    Where did I say such people should confine themselves to their houses? I said they should be prepared to medicate themselves when necessary. But it IS selfish for any such people to think “my problem must become the world’s problem as well; if I personally cannot handle a substance then nobody should be allowed to have it.”

    But I never claimed such folks must stay inside forever. Maybe your marriage failed because your wife discovered that fucking a constant strawman leads to unpleasant chafing of the personal areas.

  60. fucking a constant strawman leads to unpleasant chafing of the personal areas

    Wow – we’re all a little testy today 🙂

  61. Where did I say such people should confine themselves to their houses?

    Well given that she carried an inhaler and took medication (neither of which are 100% effective at preventing an attack), can you provide an example of how she might go about her daily life in a large urban environment without encountering people smoking?

    A. Make sure your child always carries an epi-pen or something similar, and knows how to use it; or, B. Try to make sure everybody your child might ever possibly come in contact with is completely free of cigarette smoke or peanut-oil residue? To put it another way: do you tell your child that dealing with her affliction is her responsibility, or do you tell her “don’t worry, the rest of the world will go out of its way to take responsibility for your health problems?” Which kid is most likely to live long enough to die of old age?

    If A is infective and B is impractical, then C (not leaving the house) is a reasonable extrapolation.

    Again, I ask, what was she to do? And why is it her responsibility and not that of the person spewing a toxic cloud?

    Put another way, I live in the ghetto (I really do) and people around here like to shoot guns from time to time. Now I’ll freely admit that gun shooting is for the most part illegal, but if I go outside and am shot by a stray bullet, is it my fault?

  62. Again, I ask, what was she to do? And why is it her responsibility and not that of the person spewing a toxic cloud?

    Because it is not a “toxic cloud”; it is something that most people can handle with no problem save perhaps a minor annoyance, but unfortunately your wife cannot. That’s the difference between “poisons” and “allergens.”

    A cloud of cyanide is toxic; it would kill anybody, and must be kept out of the public arena. A cloud of lilac scent is NOT toxic, though my boyfriend, with his allergy, cannot handle it. And it is HIS responsibility to avoid lilacs and their oils, not the responsibility of the rest of the world to alter itself for my boyfriend’s convenience. (Personally, I think lilacs stink worse than smoke. But I would not tell anybody to uproot their flowers because I personally dislike the smell.)

  63. Mark — you just don’t get it so let me give you the executive summary:

    Being a Libertarian means never having to say you’re sorry.

    – Louisiana Boatman

  64. Being a Libertarian means never having to say you’re sorry.

    No, it’s: “Being a libertarian means never assuming somebody else should take responsibility for YOUR problems.”

  65. Incidentally–I have never been able to handle strobe lights. At best they make me dizzy; at worst they make me pass out. When I was growing up in Virginia, there was a planetarium owned and run by the city where I often attended shows. But some shows I couldn’t see, because they used strobes. (Mind you, this was paid for by MY TAX DOLLARS.)

    So what did I do? Did I petition the City Council to end the strobe shows, on the grounds that if I, Jennifer (the center of the universe), cannot handle something then nobody else should be allowed to have it? No–I figured that this was my problem, and I’d just have to deal with it rather than selfishly expect everybody else to change for my benefit.

    Well, I thought I was being unselfish. Maybe Mark would say I was just being irresponsible in regards to something that is a very real health problem for some people. Little bastards spewing toxic flash-lighting into the air.

  66. My cigar was quite delicious last night.
    I spewed a toxic cloud into the neighborhood for almost 2 hours.
    I have no idea how many people I may have killed.
    O! The humanity!

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