In response to Debra Tao’s letter on her “Lost rights” of smoking (June 11). Lost rights, or rights reinstated?

For years, asthmatics and others with breathing difficulties have had to excuse themselves from restaurants, malls and other public places because of someone else’s “right” to smoke. However, as a society, we have finally realized that not everyone can tolerate cigarette smoke.

With our current knowledge that secondhand smoke is just as dangerous as firsthand smoke, causing a plethora of cancers and other undesirable medical conditions, we now know it would be crazy for any coherent business owner to allow patrons to smoke in buildings. It’s detrimental to everyone’s health and drives more customers away than it attracts.

Why don’t we just let everyone haul in their cars to malls, stores and restaurants and let them leave them running? Exhaust has about the same toxicity as cigarette smoke.

We seem to have the mentality that “this is America and we’ve got the right. It may not be good for ourselves or those around us, but we should do it because we can do it.”

Part of living in a social group means that our own individual rights are going to be infringed upon. What about the rights of those people who choose not to smoke? Maybe they don’t want to breathe in carcinogenic fumes or have their children breathe them in either.

Isn’t the right to have clean air more important than the right to be able to smoke in public?

Alan Cyr, Lewiston

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