R. J. Reynolds is to be applauded for developing a "smokeless" cigarette. Those who enjoy smoking will be able to do so without bothering others who may be annoyed by smoke.
Although polls indicate that the number of those who smoke is dropping, smokers still represent a sizable minority of citizens.
And today, smokers have become victims--of slights, of rudeness and of outright discrimination.
As founders of People United for Friendly Smoking (PUFFS)--a nonprofit group, independent of the tobacco industry, that believes in courtesy, compromise and accommodation rather than repressive legislation on smoking matters--we are well aware of the stress inflicted on today's smokers by non-smokers. Thousands of letters to our organization attest to it.
Sure, non-smokers should be kept in mind. If you're a smoker, ask others if they mind whether you light up.
But today, the anti-smoking forces have gone overboard. Smokers face a growing number of restrictions on their freedom: employment practices that deny jobs to people who smoke, restrictions in private restaurants that make it increasingly difficult to smoke and laws to restrict tobacco use.
Bills have been introduced in Congress to ban smoking in all federal buildings, ban smoking on all airlines and prohibit the advertising of tobacco products. The next step, certain anti-smokers propose, should be outright prohibition.