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Smoke 'em while you can

How far America has fallen that it requires even its most destructive vices to sport a healthy facade.

Believe it or not, I don't spend that much time in bars. Funny how the powers that be here at the Mail Tribune selected me to cover the Rogue Valley's nightlife scene. Do I give off the desperate alcoholic vibe and just don't know it?

But when I do decide to stop by a watering hole for a quick one after work, I damn well expect to be punished by inhaling copious lungfuls of cancer-heavy Camel nonfilter smoke.

In other words, I don't support the Legislature vote to ban smoking in Oregon bars by 2009.

Schools, yes. Hospitals, definitely. Churches, maybe. But the health fascists must at least leave one spot open in which washed-out alkies can partake in the suicidal ritual of nursing a beer in a dark, smoky burrow without the inconvenient specter of health or hope looming over their heads.

Naysayers will accuse me of disregarding the health-conscious nonsmokers who feel they have the right to belly up to the bar without fear that their lungs will rot in the next 20 years.

And these naysayers would be correct. I don't care about the health rights of people who seek out bars to scratch their fun itch by pounding Jager bombs at Ground Zero on Saturday night.

Bars are meant to be toxic places, laden with despair and impending violence.

Speaking of violence, think about what it's going to be like if these hard-core, sauce-head knuckle-draggers can't ride their carcinogenic highs throughout the night. I am convinced that nicotine-fueled rampages will increase across Jackson County.

Sure, you say, they can just duck out the door for a quick butt and return to their bar stool.

Yes they can, but have you considered the impact herds of smokers parading in and out of the tavern all night long will have on the environment? The more the door opens, the more cold air is let in, meaning the furnace has to work overtime to keep up.

What do you think these furnaces run on? Surely not Red Bull and vodka. Are we ready to deal with the increase in greenhouse gases stemming from the rising energy usage brought about by this silly ban?

Is it a partisan issue? You bet. The House Republicans are looking out for our best interests here. They fought Senate Bill 571, arguing that the state would lose valuable cigarette taxes and lottery revenue. Both true.

That's not to mention the violence and environ-mental destruction I mentioned above.

The Democrats, as they often do, think they know what's best for you and me by curbing bar smoking.

For a political party that preaches the word of Charles Darwin any chance it gets, you'd think the Democrats would allow Friday and Saturday night to play out naturally, with winners beating the hell out of their rivals and going home with the girl and losers contracting lung cancer to go along with their liver cirrhosis. Let the weak be washed away, I say.

I say this not having smoked a cigarette since June 1993. I decided to take up the habit one summer, only to drop it after I forgot to buy smokes every time my friends and I stopped by the gas station. I guess it wasn't enough of a priority for me to drop $1.75 (ha!) per pack.

But far be it from me to choose how you want to meet your end.

You walk into a bar, you take your chances. Everyday life is a game of Russian roulette, as it is. Why should our weekends be any different?

Reach reporter Chris Conrad at 776-4471 orat cconrad@mailtribune.com.