Editor, the Gauntlet,
When first reading Mr. Oakes' ill-thought-out article I had presumed that it was part of the weekly lampoon that is "Academic Probation." Unfortunately, I was incorrect.
Regardless of any personal stance on proposed smoking bylaws, denying there has been "adequate research" on the effects of second-hand smoke and reducing the anti-smoking argument to a "fight over smell" is ignorant at best. Two decades of intense research on the effects of second-hand smoke--enough for the World Health Organization to propose a ban on smoking in all public places with a clear conscience--has led to proof of a causal linkage to conditions including lung cancer and heart disease. In children, involuntary exposure causes respiratory and middle ear disease, asthma attacks, and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.
To state that smokers are not a burden to the health care system because they "die earlier" is ridiculous. Mr. Oakes must have no idea what cancer treatment costs taxpayers in this country. A quick visit to the Health Science library or to one of the many medical journals available online will yield a plethora of references which contradict Mr. Oakes' opinion. Indeed, you will be hard-pressed to find any support for his conclusions.