published Tuesday, August 20th, 2013

Roberts: Dark days ahead for smokers

by Dalton Roberts

A group called Tobacco Free Chattanooga is calling for smoking to be banned in all our public parks. While I would prefer to see this act applied only to concerts and events where people are in close proximity, I must say that smokers have brought all their problems upon themselves.

Before the Non-Smokers Protection Act of 2007, very few smokers paused to ask, "Do you mind if I smoke?" I'll admit that, when I was smoking, I seldom did that when several others were already lit up. Knowing now the dangers of second hand smoke, I regret those times.

I was a slave to nicotine. Many doctors say it is more habituating than heroin. The hardest thing I ever did was quit. No man has ever lived who loved the taste, feel and smell of a cigarette more than I did. I am ashamed to say the habit held me in its firm grip.

I've always taken pride in my willpower. To quit smoking was a dramatic exception of my ability to decide upon something and do it. Everyone must find their own way out and mine was spiritual. Yes, I asked God to help me and he did.

I know smokers have been generally thoughtless about smoking indoors for hundreds of years, but I hope we will not use every available tool to punish them. No, I do not like banning smoking in our public parks except for crowded situations.

The Miller Plaza ban made sense because one night at a Leon Redbone concert, it was raining and everyone was huddled up together. I remember clearly how some people chose to smoke under those circumstances and, frankly, it shocked me. Realizing the extent of my own previous addiction, it should not have.

When smoking was banned in restaurants in 2007, I tried to support restaurants who were kind to their smokers. Hungry House on Highway 58 has been one of my places to dine on Southern cooking and to meet old friends from childhood. They split the restaurant into two physical locations so they could keep their smoking friends. I increased my business with them and told them the reason I was doing it.

Still, I predict darker days for smokers. The health dangers are so certain that even doctors who try to present a more balanced picture are not being heard.

For example, Dr. William Campbell Douglas wrote a book titled "The Health Benefits of Tobacco." He specifies the amounts of tobacco that can be beneficial to the human body -- six cigarettes a day would be helpful.

I tried six cigarettes a day but could not stop at that.People smoke for many reasons and, unless one digs into the roots of their addiction, it makes it more difficult to quit. Space does not allow full explanation of my inability to be satisfied with six cigarettes. I do know several other smokers who could smoke six cigarettes a day -- or eight -- or 18. I am not one of them and, as Clint Eastwood so wisely says, "A man must know his own limitations."

The real reason smokers need to head for the hills is that 81 percent of people in America are non-smokers. They do not like to smell smokers or their smoke.

Smokers had better believe darker days are ahead. It's called politics.

Contact Dalton Roberts at

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fairmon said...

Good article and from someone that knows how it is to be addicted to smoking not just the nicotine but smoking. Many of us did not have all the information now available about the serious negative health effects of smoking. It is not the nicotine but the delivery method that causes a lot of damage. I used nicotine gum and will power. It was one of, if not the most, difficult things in my life which has probably been shortened by smoking. There are many aids which can help if desire and commitment are included. In addition to the health affect smoking is expensive, smelly, inconvenient and socially objectionable. One failed attempt should not prevent another and another until successful.

August 20, 2013 at 9:24 a.m.
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