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Smoke Out

A smoke-free opening day at PNC Park, like it or not



Beating a dead horse: It's what the news media does. Why? Because so many millions of humans are in denial, and the only way to wake them up is to hammer home the obvious, ad infinitum.

That's why the constant drumbeat of articles on global warming continues. Because, though it's difficult to precisely quantify, and experts can disagree about its scope, reach, and the how much time we have to mitigate it, it's real. Yes, denial-heads, it's real.

What else is real? The fact that smoking is bad for you and secondhand smoke is bad for others around you. And yet the "debate" persists. The "debate" goes on because drug addicts (a.k.a. smokers) and purported "libertarians" (a.k.a. right-wingers who want to pretend they're not the right-wing tools they are) keep bitching about it.

The latest round of silliness comes from smokers who are pissed off at the Pirates for banning smoking at PNC Park. Nitwits. Numbskulls. Denial-heads. The letter-to-the-editor war in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette is a fine example of the ignorance which persists when it comes to smoking. I hate to be so high and mighty; I prefer just to be high. But although I ain't no rocket scientist, even I get that breathing carcinogens is bad for you ... even if they're being provided by your inconsiderate friend who smokes around you.

But judging from the P-G mailbag, I guess some people haven't figured that out yet.

When a supporter of the policy objected to cigarettes as health risks at the ballpark, another letter-writer griped that such a complaint forgot about such risks as "buttery, salty popcorn and fatty hot dogs. Maybe these health risks can be banned as well in a few years. And beer. He forgot beer."

The difference between banning fatty food and smoke, my clever friend, is that if I eat a fatty hot dog and my arteries harden and I die, you don't suffer. But if I smoke a cigarette and it helps your lungs deteriorate, we both suffer. I don't have the right to make you pay for my idiocy.

Here's another P-G correspondent: "One of my early memories of Forbes Field was the smell of tobacco smoke, which created an atmosphere that will always remind me and give me that ballpark feeling. ... I can't stand when I am around people who smoke, but what is wrong with going out to the ramp and catching a puff between innings? God forbid, what will they do when Jim Leyland comes to town?"

First of all, I like Jim Leyland. But I don't want to breathe his poison gas. I know, call me crazy. And I'm sorry, but the rest of us shouldn't have to allow our health to suffer, just because you're nostalgic for the good old days when carcinogens and men with hats filled the stadiums ... and when people willingly sucked crap into their lungs to assist their friends, the drug addicts.

What's wrong with going down to the ramp? I'm on the freaking ramp. And so are others who, oddly enough, choose to breathe air. It's a nutty, kooky kinda concept, but you'll have to bear with us eccentrics, who constitute the great majority of the population.

Another non-smoker griped to the P-G that although smokers at bars and restaurants can walk outside and have a cigarette before returning, "PNC Park, and Three Rivers Stadium before it, never allowed re-entry as long as I've been attending Pirates games."

Sorry, pal. You can't smoke on an airplane, and they don't allow re-entry either. You just have to deal with it.

But the ones who really crack me up are the average Joe smoker who complain, "By Gawd, I ain't ever gonna go to PNC Park again."

Say it ain't so, Joe! Don't you get it? We don't care! We're glad you're not coming. The Pirates will still have excellent attendance. If they can draw a crowd with the putrid teams of recent years, they can take the hit of a few yellow-toothed, cancer-breathing yinzers staying home.

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