Keep me away from second-hand sugar

Published 8:43 am Tuesday, January 5, 2010

I’ve been called by many names over the years – some not fit to print in this space.

Now I can add “second-class citizen” to that listing.

As of Jan. 2, those of us who chose, as adults, to light-up a cigarette following a meal within a North Carolina restaurant that allowed smoking are no longer afforded that option.

And to think, my father, God rest his soul, and many others like him placed his life on the line as a proud member of our nation’s military to protect the freedoms we all enjoy as Americans. Better make that the freedoms we ONCE enjoyed as Americans.

Thanks to our knee-buckling legislators in Raleigh, smokers in this tobacco-rich state can no longer sit back after packing in a nice meal and fire-up a cigarette. Our leaders, ducking for cover from the bean sprout, turkey barbecue crowd, sealed our fate by voting in favor of a statewide smoking ban within restaurants and bars.

What’s even more un-American is that our – pardon the tobacco pun – pell-mell politicians told private business owners what they can and cannot do.

Now before all you non-smokers and health department officials begin lining-up outside my office with tar, feathers and a rail, let me make it perfectly clear that I’m fully aware of two key facts in this tobacco-based feud – (1) non-smokers do have the right not to forced to sit next to a table full of (insert favorite brand here) puffers; and (2) it’s a safe bet that all adult smokers fully understand the health consequences of their habit.

With that said, why wasn’t more done to reach a compromise in this issue rather than telling the smokers to like it or lump it?

Most all restaurants that I frequent and allow smoking have separate sections for those who choose to light-up. Some had invested a lot of money in a special ventilation system in order to prevent cigarette smoke from drifting to other parts of the restaurant.

From the reaction this newspaper got from local business owners for a story we published in Saturday’s edition (“Take it Outside”), they didn’t catch much, if any, grief from their non-smoking customers within a restaurant environment that allowed patrons to light-up in a section dedicated solely for their use.

When Gov. Beverly Perdue placed her name on the bottom of this new law, she signed all smokers to the class of second-hand citizens.

So, if ya’ll don’t want our second-hand smoke, here’s a few things this smoker requests in return.

Because I’m a diabetic, I need not to be seated in a restaurant next to a table ordering dessert. I’m in danger of breathing in second-hand sugar.

I also suffer from high blood pressure (perhaps due to the stress of having to write about all these stupid laws passed by pathetic politicians). Therefore, I need to be seated away from tables where customers freely cover their food with salt. I do not want to take the chance of my body absorbing second-hand sodium.

Heck, just place me in a room all by myself….with an ashtray, of course.

(Cal Bryant is Editor of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald and Gates County Index. He can be reached at or 252-332-7207.)