Smokers Have Rights, Too

I must disclose the following. First, I am not a smoker. Second, I have lost a spouse to cancer. Third, I have been a steady and frequent contributor to and supporter of the American Cancer Society.

When I returned home recently from a beautiful afternoon of hiking in Patapsco State Park, I found a misleading flier from the American Cancer Society inside my front door. The flier was misleading because it encourages the reader to call a County Council member to demand a vote for smoke-free restaurants and bars in Howard County.

Howard has been a leader in smoke-free elevators, workplaces and restaurants. Just a few years ago, bar and restaurant owners were required to build expensive partitions between bars and dining areas to keep the dining area smoke-free. All restaurants in the county are smoke-free. People who choose to work in and patronize bars where smoking is legal know the risk before they enter the establishment.

When are we going to stop bullying people and businesses for individual agendas? Smokers have rights. Business owners have rights. People who don't smoke have the right to patronize establishments where smoking is not allowed and avoid bars where smokers congregate.

The misleading propaganda distributed Sunday afternoon would have you believe that all restaurants in the county allow smoking when they do not. I am alarmed by the use of my contributions to the American Cancer Society to print and distribute such false and disingenuous information. This is not research, and it is not prevention. This is a heavy-handed attempt to control a segment of the business community and its adult patrons.

If I receive another one of these false and misleading fliers, I will stop contributing to the American Cancer Society and find a nonprofit group that is less invasive and more truthful where my contributions will be used more effectively.

John Wafer

Ellicott City