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The Newcomer

Crinkles in my new year

There are some things in this new year that I am having difficulty living with. The no-smoking ban is one of them.

I am not a smoker, but, before the ban, I cringed when I'd see smokers huddled in doorways having the puff that refreshes. My cringe sprang sometimes from sympathy for their cold state and other times from the state I imagined their lungs were in.

Now, with the ban saying no smoking within 25 feet of doors and windows that open, it pains me to see these smokers being buffeted by winter winds, rain and snow without the slightest wind break available to them. Not only must I worry about cancer gnawing away at their lungs, but the all too real possibility of pneumonia raises its head.

As if it weren't enough to have 'Big Brother' legislating this unhealthy habit, there is even one business in town that has directed its employees to immediately report any fellow employee seen smoking in banned areas.

That tattle-tale order is a heavy onus to put on employees, I think, but even more it strikes an uneasy chord deep within me-it's too much like the spy-on-your-neighbor policy adopted, cherished and used by dictatorships that led people into dark places no one should ever have to go.

And, speaking of spying, have you noticed that word has been sanitized by a government that prefers to call it protective surveillance when referring to the Patriot Act?

Let's not kid ourselves. Spying is spying-whether you're fingering a smoking co-worker who is less than 25 feet from the door or whether you're allowing the government to invade your privacy without jumping through the usual legal hoops.

Sometimes I just have to shake my head. . . and wonder what this world is coming to.

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