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As my hometown community of Bloomington-Normal continues its debate on a smoke-free ordinance, the arguments by the opposition continue to be based on very personal feelings about the issue. Can we step back and take a look at what is best for the long-term future of our community? We can argue forever about personal rights, but our country is founded on truths that we hold to be self-evident.

In this argument, there is one truth that is most definitely self-evident. Smoking is dangerous to your health and ,therefore, secondhand smoke is also dangerous. Secondhand smoke contains the same toxins as the smoke inhaled by a smoker. No smoker inhales all the smoke from a cigarette as it continues to burn at the other end. No ventilation system can remove those burning toxins from the air faster than I naturally breathe them in when in the presence of smokers.

As a longtime conservative Republican, I believe in less government, and the protection of personal rights. In this case, it is self evident that the smokers have a personal right to smoke, and we are not taking away their right to smoke. It is also self-evident that their smoke harms others, so they must choose to smoke outside or in private.

This is not a rights issue. The smoker's right is protected. This is not prohibition. This is a public health issue. We need to create a comprehensive ordinance, pass it and implement it without further ado.

Kenton M. Abner

Springfield, Mo.

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