by Rick Moore
I guess I'm becoming spoiled. Why? Well, just last week, Dave and I went to MAL weekend in Washington, D.C. MAL stands for Mid-Atlantic Leather. Thousands of leather guys and gals showed up for the festivities. The whole shebang is put on by the Centaur MC of Washington. They do a fabulous job of keeping everyone entertained.
The real action seems to be at the huge lobby of the Washington Plaza Hotel. Jammed full of hunky, hot, handsome leather guys, it's is a real turn-on. OK, Ricky, now get to the point, you say. Well, the lobby is super-packed and it's a great place to meet new friends, but my biggest gripe was the amount of smoking of cigarettes and cigars. D.C. doesn't have a smoking ban like the one that Delaware recently enacted, as of November 28, 2002. That's a shame, because that's the only thing I could complain about for the four days we attended.
It made me proud to tell some of the attendees that our governor had the guts to sign into law the legislation enacting a smoking ban in any public indoor space. A little state like Delaware can be compared to a big state, like California, which also enacted a smoking ban several years ago.
In fact, now when we go out to restaurants and bars in Sussex County, it's a great feeling not having to deal with that stinking smoke that gets on our clothes and in our hair. Thick cigarette smoke actually burns my eyes when I'm exposed to it for too long.
Many smokers complain that it's a rights issue, but I beg to differ. We non-smokers deserve clean, un-compromised air to breathe. It's a health issue. Smokers still have the right to smoke. That's not taken awayjust the locations where they can smoke.
As a health issue, smoking hits close to home. Both my parents smoked two packs of cigarettes every day for as long as I can remember. The fact is, my dad died of lung cancer due to smoking. He was so hooked that he died with a cigarette in his mouth. Even more tragic was my mother who continued smoking up until her second heart attack, when she had a quadruple bypass. She finally quit at age 79, after her doctor said that if she didn't, she'd have less than a year to live.
But the damage had already been done. High blood pressure restricted blood flow in her lungs, and a final heart attack did her in at age 81. Her doctor attributed all her health issues to excessive, prolonged cigarette smoking.
Many of us have childhood memories of driving in our parents' carboth of them smoking away and with all the windows rolled up tight. If I tried to roll a window down for some fresh air, I was yelled at to immediately close that window. Dave says he remembers that happening to him, also. Yes, both of his parents smoked, but they both quit some time ago. And it's great to see that they both really take care of themselves now. They exercise regularly and eat very healthy foods.
It may be too late for my parents, but Dave's are doing great by staying away from smoking.
But there seems to be trouble on the horizon for us Delawareans. Last week, our local paper had an article about legislation that was introduced to weaken the state's smoking ban. It seems our right to breathe clean air is in jeopardy. A hearing was scheduled for this week, but because of the lawmakers' 6-week break, it's not likely that the issue will be debated until late March, when they return to Dover. Some people want to restore smoking to tap rooms, taverns, horse tracks, sections of the slot machine venues, and non-profit organizations that may hold events for anyone over the age of 21.
There are two representatives, one from Hartley and the other from Harrington, who are the primary sponsors of the HB15 bill. They say that it is a freedom issue and very much a fiscal issue. They say that the ban is hurting a lot of businesses, and that they have to fix it.
Now I ask you, don't the non-smokers deserve the freedom from cigarette smoke? And now that places are smoke-free, don't you think that non-smokers are more willing to go out to the bars, restaurants, and the track where they don't have to deal with that stinking smoke? And again I say, if it worked in California, and has for years, then why can't Delaware at least give it a chance?
These two legislators plan to have a rally to mobilize support for their bill. I, for one, do not support it at all. In fact, I'll complain to our great governor, Ruth Ann Minner. Hopefully, so will you. I repeat, this is not a freedom issueit is a health and quality-of-life issue.
As I was writing this article, we got the latest copy of The Wall Street Journal. (I keep up with what the "right" is writing about.) And I noticed that Philip Morris USA has changed its name to "Altria." That's a pretty inoffensive name! I suggested to Dave that maybe they should have changed their name to "Happy Nutritional Big Conglomerate Group." You sure won't think of cigarettes when you hear "Altria." The old name was too closely associated with tobacco. It's a cunning move, if I do say so myself.
Rick Moore is a personal trainer certified by the American Fitness Professionals & Associates. Visit him at www.ricksfitness.net, or call 302-684-0316.
LETTERS From CAMP Rehoboth, Vol. 13, No. 1, February 7, 2003.