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Summary of “Smokers Get a Raw Deal” by Stanley Scott Essay

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Updated: Oct 10th, 2021

Having a darker skin color and having two X chromosomes and being discriminated against were things of the past. The nation that fought so hard to transcend these inhumanities is now struggling with another type of discrimination: the act of smoking. Stanley Scott says that “If you happen to enjoy a cigarette, you are the potential target of violent anti-smokers and overzealous public enforcers determined to force their beliefs on the rest of society”.

Why does this happen? It’s because these days’ smokers have to abide by an infinite amount of laws that dictate what locations smoking is prohibited in and when they are allowed to smoke in those locations. People can’t smoke in planes, trains, office spaces, schools, colleges, and etcetera. There are ‘public interest’ organizations in place that work to prohibit smoking amongst people and go as far as to encourage “harassment of those who smoke.” There are societies present that come up with creative ways to ambush people who smoke, such as blasting them with horns and attacking them with water guns, and burning their effigies.

There comes a point when harmless fun becomes a terrorizing act that ends up hurting people. In the midst of discouraging smoking, some people have gone overboard by committing violent and hate crimes against smokers. A few examples include being sprayed in the face aerosol cans, being held at gunpoint, being stabbed, and getting brutally wounded over small incidents of smoking in public spaces.

America was built on the idea of freedom, equality, life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. When these basic principles are violated the essence of America starts to blur. The question raised is that “Tomorrow, who knows what personal behavior will become socially unacceptable, subject to restrictive laws and public ridicule? Could travel by private car make social engineers’ hit list because it is less safe than public transit? Could ice cream, cake, and cookies become socially unacceptable because their consumption causes obesity? What about sky diving, mountain climbing, skiing, and contact sports? How far will we allow this to spread?”

Is an analogy of healthy food against fatty junk food really applicable to be compared to smoking behavior? The answer is provided by Watson Laughton Lafayette who wrote a letter to the editor in response to Stanley Scott’s article, “Smokers Get a Raw Deal.” Lafayette explains that people who make laws and influence other people to exercise these laws are obviously at the top of the ladder and should be able to understand the difference between the harm sugar does to a human body and the effect smoke produced by cigarettes has on another human beings body. In other words, he does not believe that smokers get a raw deal when it comes to following an infinite amount of rules concerning where a person can smoke and when he or she can smoke. He believes that if someone is involved in an activity that inflicts harm upon someone else should be stopped and there should be legal sanctions in doing so. Therefore he insists that a different analogy should be used to describe this conflict, one which involves “examining the response of unwitting nondrinkers in public places to being force-fed bourbon.” The idea behind Lafayette’s argument is that if people want to indulge in health hazardous activities they should be done in private so other parties don’t have to involuntarily succumb to the hazards.

Stanley on the other hand argues that “Can a nation that has struggled so valiantly to eliminate bias on race, religion, and sex afford to allow a fresh set of categories to encourage new forms of hostility between larger groups of citizens?” In my opinion, the answer is a balance between Stanley and Lafayette’s argument.

First, we have to understand that smoking is an activity that causes a lot of harm to the human body. A huge killer of people all over the world is second-hand smoking. This means that people who smoke not only inflict harm upon themselves but on other people too. If something affects my well-being and health I have every right to object to that activity. It is my prerogative to be able to enjoy a clean smoke-free environment. Other people’s decisions to smoke should not affect my well-being. In the same that drunk driving is illegal smoking in public spaces should be illegal too.

The part where I agree with Stanley has to do with inflicting harm upon people who smoke and attacking them and hurting them brutally for simply smoking a cigarette. This is where people go overboard and fail America’s essence. Discrimination is wrong in whichever form it is carried out in. When people start to harm other people well being in order to lessen smoking it turns into deviant behavior and adds to the problem instead of taking away from it.

Works Cited

Lafayette, Watson. “” The New York Times. 1985. New York Times. Web.

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