Whenever I think back to my favorite summertime memories, I realize smoke is somehow involved in most of them. Setting off fireworks in my friend’s driveway. Grilling burgers with my father. The last bonfire of the season. With so many fond memories centered around setting things on fire, there is one type of combustion I can honestly say I won’t miss: cigarette smoke.
July 1 marked the day Indiana’s statewide public smoking ban went into effect. While bars and casinos will continue to be exempt, most other public businesses will no longer cater to smokers. There are smokers who are upset with the ban, claiming that it infringes on their rights. As a former smoker myself, I think this new law is quite literally a breath of fresh air.
As I mentioned earlier, I used to be a smoker. It was a bad habit I picked up in my late teens and carried into my 20s. While I might not have cared much about the effects cigarettes were having on my own body, I tried to be as considerate as possible to nonsmokers. I wish I could say this attitude was shared by my fellow smokers, but it was hardly the case. I have lost track of how many times I saw smokers light up with no thought to the people around them. Once I saw a woman walk into a restaurant and light a cigarette on her way back to the smoking section, contaminating the air of the people who expressly asked not to be exposed to cigarette smoke. Talk about a group of people having their rights violated.
The final straw for me as a smoker came a little over a year ago. My fiancée and I went to Chicago, a city that had already placed a smoking ban, to see one of my favorite bands. The club was claustrophobically packed, and it was incredibly hot. A number of people decided they wanted to smoke and, ignoring the “no smoking” signs and verbal warnings, lit up. It was already hard enough to breathe in the club before, but once the air filled with cigarette smoke it became unbearable. My fiancée, who is extremely allergic to cigarette smoke, went into an asthma attack and had to be rushed out of the building.
So whenever I hear a smoker claim their rights are being violated, I can only laugh at their sense of entitlement. The smoking ban isn’t a fool-proof deterrent, and I’m sure it will have its violators, but it’s a step in the right direction. I’m looking forward to a summer where the only smoke I smell is grilled meat and gunpowder.
Brian Lynch, of Hammond, is an undergraduate student at Purdue University Calumet. The opinion is the writer's.