Despite the proven medical statistics offering incontrovertible proof that second-hand cigarette smoke is a hazard to everyone who is exposed to it, whenever a law attempting to protect the public from these toxic fumes is passed, the predictable hue and cry from smokers and "freedom-fighters" begins.
No matter that their cigarette smoke coming to you from the other room, or at a football stadium or concert, on your lanai or on the beach is lethal.
When laws are passed to protect others from this danger, they complain about "government intrusion" and maintain their right to take the huge risk of lung cancer or emphysema and to puff away into the fresh air, saying, "We all get the car exhaust, the cane smoke and the fumes from lawnmowers and trucks. What's the big deal?"
The response to that is simple: Changes to major reform usually happen gradually--one step at a time.
The fact is smokers do have the right to choose what harm they do or don't do to their own bodies but they lose that right once they exhale.
Long ago, indirect nicotine smoke was proven to be as lethal as someone walking over to you and injecting you with a small shot of arsenic. The statistics have been there for decades, but because of the powerful tobacco lobby and the millions of people strung out on nicotine, the legal restrictions on smoking have been painfully slow in coming to pass in America.
Even today, in many malls and storefronts on Maui, you still see people puffing away in designated non-smoking areas.
If you think about it, that same person who would be disgusted at the idea of a drug addict walking up to innocent bystanders and injecting them with a small shot of heroine would fight to the death (no pun intended) for their right to smoke and to fight any laws that might be passed to protect the health and welfare of others.
This opinion column is written by Charles Laquidara, who has lived on Maui since August 2000. He worked at WBCN radio in Boston for 30 years as the morning-drive host of a show called "The Big Mattress" and is occasionally heard on Mana'o Radio here on-island. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or subscribe to his daily ramblings on Facebook.