American Smokers Find Life Going Tough With Ban

by VR Sreeraman on  December 27, 2007 at 6:43 PM Lifestyle News
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American Smokers Find Life Going Tough With Ban
It's tough being a smoker in America.

Smoking on the pavement, in your car, even your own home could put you on the wrong side of the law in the United States.

Twenty states and more than 2,000 cities including New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and Washington, have laws against smoking, and even north of the border, in Canada, smoking is banned in public places.

"It's much worse in America than in France," said smoking activist Michael McFadden.

He warned however, that it is only a matter of time before France adopts smoking prohibitions similar to the most onerous currently in place in this country.

"After France bans smoking in bars and restaurants, they will go for a bigger ban -- in parks, on beaches, in cars," he said. "The anti-smokers want to stop everyone else from smoking."

In the United States, you can lose your job for lighting up -- even on your own time. That's what happened to Scott Rodrigues, who is suing the Scotts Lawn Care company for violating his privacy and civil rights.

"It's a freedom thing: 90 percent of Americans support me and in Europe it's more like 100 percent," said Rodrigues, from the town of Buzzards Bay, Massachusetts.

A poll published earlier this month showed that most respondents felt Rodrigues's firing was unfair, and only seven percent of Americans said they thought employers should be allowed to sack workers who smoke.

Still, anti-smoking laws are proliferating.

The town of Belmont in California, the state with some of the toughest anti-smoking laws in the United States, has banned smoking within six yards (meters) of a doorway or window -- the equivalent of making it illegal to smoke on the pavement. The town expects to adopt a law next year banning smoking in apartment buildings.

Moves like that are enough to send Los Angeles tattoo artist Jesse Bruner into a rage.

"I've got the right to smoke my cigarette so long as I'm not blowing it in my neighbor's door, right? But now they tell me that I've got to go out in the middle of the street," he railed.

But there are some havens for diehard smokers, or even those who like to savor the occasional puff.

Diplomatic immunity can give you the right to smoke -- but you would have to go to the United Nations headquarters in New York and light up in the Delegates Lounge or Vienna Café.

Or you could go to Cuba's permanent mission to the United Nations, where, at a party in November cigars and cigarettes were smoked on the dance floor, heaping scorn both on anti-smoking laws and on the US embargo of the Communist island.

Still, there are pockets of resistance. In Miami, where anti-smoking laws are not as stringent, tourists and locals still light up cigars on the terraces of cafes.

And in Chicago, tobacco giant RJ Reynolds has opened the luxury Marshall McGearty Tobacco Lounge, which claims to be "the most comfortable place in the world to smoke."

In Montreal, meanwhile, smokers brave the icy Quebec winter to indulge their tobacco habit.

"Whether there's a howling gale or severe frost, even if it's minus 30 degrees, I dress up warm and go outside to smoke," Jacques, a journalist, told AFP.

Source: AFP

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