I’ve never smoked anything before. There are a number of reasons for this. One reason is that I never grew up in a family of smokers. Another reason is that I was educated quite young on the dangers of smoking and I heeded the warnings. Another reason is that I was an ice hockey player and didn’t want to affect my lungs… So on and so forth.
Nevertheless, there came a point when a number of friends/acquaintances began to smoke. As you grow older, you meet more and more people who do smoke. When I lived in the UK, I was surrounded by 1 in 5 adults smoking. In a city like London, that’s a lot of smokers. In a place like Europe, smoking is quite a popular thing to do.
Attitude of the Non-Smoker
I suspect my attitude towards smoking is similar to that of many non-smokers alike. I don’t personally smoke and I find it a little uncomfortable when someone is smoking in front of me. I happen to disagree with the smoking lifestyle; however, I don’t hate people who do smoke. I would go so far as to say that I don’t think it’s a good idea for people to smoke; however, I am not going around declaring any sort of hatred towards smokers. In fact, I have a number of friends who do smoke and I’ve stood there conversing with people who actively smoking right in front of me (and I didn’t tell them to put it out).
Does this make me intolerant? Are we intolerant of smokers? Governments set up laws to tell people where they can/can’t smoke, how old they must be to purchase cigarettes, and what they can/can’t smoke as well. No one that I know of criticizes the government for being intolerant because they have set up smoking regulations.
If smokers wanted to march in a parade to support/encourage smoking, I wouldn’t be inclined to attend or support that particular cause as I don’t happen to support every cause that exists. I wouldn’t hate any of my friends who did choose to join that movement. Would it be intolerant of non-smokers to disagree and voice their disapproval of smoking for whatever reasons?
Difference of Opinions
Even though I disagree with the lifestyle of a smoker, it doesn’t make me a bigot or intolerant or hateful towards all smokers. It’s possible to disagree with smoking and yet still respect persons regardless of their smoking orientation. I don’t have to encourage my friends to smoke in order to still care for them as persons.
Now, replace “smoking” with any other social issue. Once we do that, all of the sudden it becomes intolerance. If you disagree with homosexuality, you’re intolerant… but if you disagree with smoking, you’re not? We don’t flinch when businesses refuse to allow smoking on their premises and governments regulate when/where/how/what people smoke. Yet, if it is in regards to sexual orientation (as one of many examples I could use), then it is somehow seen as bigotry.
Avoiding a Fallacy
I am not here suggesting that smoking and homosexuality are the same thing and are completely comparable by nature. That is not the point of this article. I am merely stating that the attitude towards one group of people is somehow intolerant and not to the other. There is no consistency in regards to who we “tolerate” or what “tolerance” even means anymore.
The conclusion to the attitudes of tolerance and smoking, is that it is possible to disagree with someone’s lifestyle (i.e. smoking) and not hate the person (smokers) simply because you disagree with them. If this is the attitude of non-smokers towards smokers, then why should it not be the same in regards to other social issues?
– Tyson Bradley