At mercy of almighty dollar

Dear sir:
I read the letters to the editor in regards to the smoking ban with great interest. I am a RN in a cardio-intensive care unit, and I see the results of what smoking does to our bodies and the withdrawals patients experience after surgery.
Although there are many pollutants out there as mentioned by Kirsten Gunderson, I feel smoking has to fall in a different category. Research has proven not only is cigarette smoke a cancer-causing agent but second-hand smoke is just as harmful contributing to allergies and asthma in our children.
My problem lies in the realm that I have made a conscious effort to be healthy. I work out regularly and eat a well-balanced diet, but I am still involuntarily exposed to these carcinogens while carrying out activities of my daily living. For example, exiting the bank, on entering the grocery store, or while trying to enjoy my dinner at a restaurant.
In other words, I can be harmed by somebody’s disregard for their own health.
The surgeon general puts grotesque pictures and health warnings related to smoking on cigarette packages, but we cannot mandate that smoking is not unlike drinking alcohol and should take place in licensed venues or the privacy of our homes.
We choose to allow others to pollute our air, not for fear of denying them their rights but because it may cost our local businesses a loss of revenue. So, in essence, it comes down to my health is at the mercy of local merchants and the almighty dollar.
Anastasia Pieda, RN
Minneapolis, Mn.