You've slogged through 50 minutes of class, fighting back the urge to fall asleep after yet another night with only three hours of sleep. The last few minutes of class tick by, and your adrenaline surges, freedom, fresh air, and campus fast-food awaiting you after a long day in academia. You fly out the door of the building, sucking in a rich lung-full of ... second-hand smoke.
Apparently, you weren't the only one pining to get out of class. The chain-smokers, absolutely unnerved by the prospect of going a whole 50 minutes without a Marlboro, always seem to blaze down the hallway with unmatched speed, ready to light up that after-class cigarette mid-stride through the entrance of any building. It's really quite a sight, to see the tension drain from their faces as they take that first drag. Of course, I suspect it's quite a sight to see the expression on my face as well, as my lungs revolt, my chest tightens due to asthma, and my stomach turns from the putrid smell of cheap tobacco burning.
Granted, smokers should have every right in the world to smoke, and I'm not the person who's going to wave my hands to stop them. On the other hand, I do not think that anybody has to right to invade my personal space with the by-products of their vices. A non-smoker myself, I have other activities that fill my time and fulfill my goals. However, in spite of the fact that I am an avid target shooter, the city, for some silly reason, has mandated that I must practice my vice in an approved facility with an air filtration system and a suitable backstop. I'd imagine this has something to do with the fact that people might take offense to me setting up a rack of targets on the Mall, without regards to where the by-products of my indulgences might land.
Oh, but of course smoking isn't as detrimental to someone's health as accidentally shooting someone is, or so the argument goes. Nonetheless, I think that it's only polite and proper to restrict the potentially deleterious effects of one's activities from impinging on others' lives. Even in my own residence, I am not allowed, either by law or by common courtesy, to engage in activities which have perceptible effects on my neighbors, such as blasting my stereo at 4 a.m., or running a small chlorine gas processing business from my kitchen table. Why, then, are we concerned with preserving the right of people to blow smoke into our faces at the exit of every structure on campus?
Perhaps you feel that I'm infringing on your right to light up anywhere you damn well please, and that someone needs to protect you against the tyranny of people such as myself. Well, then I would ask you who is going to protect my right to breathe a reasonably clean lungful of air?
Jason T. Figueroa
Interdisciplinary Studies Junior
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