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I am a retired elementary teacher and would like to share a summary of a health lesson that I taught my third-graders.

I asked my students to pretend that there was a person with a bottle of alcohol at the door of our classroom. We invited the person into the room, and he/she sat down and started drinking. I would ask, "Does this person have the right to force us to drink and get drunk?" Their adamant response: "No!" The students came to the conclusion that eventually the drinker would become drunk, but they and I would not get drunk by watching. The "drunk" left the room, and in came a person with drugs and needles. Same conclusion: We wouldn't be affected by sitting in the same room and watching.

Now the next person at the door had cigarettes. It didn't take the students long to realize that, although the smoker didn't have any more right to force us to smoke than the people with alcohol/drugs had to force us to use their products, that is exactly what happened: Everyone in the room ended up smoking.

Since I feel that many of our individual rights and freedoms are slowly being eroded by government regulations, I don't automatically advocate government stepping in regarding this smoking matter. I do, though, wonder if there would be any controversy at all if smokers respected non-smokers' rights by voluntarily refraining from smoking in enclosed public spaces. A person's right to smoke is no greater or no less than my right not to smoke, but by the very nature of the product indoor smokers do force non-smokers to partake. If 8- and 9-year-old children can grasp this concept, why can't adults?

Linda Zavada

Long Point

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