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Saturday, February 17, 2007

Odor Annoyance = Death, Imprisonment?

Last week was pretty absurd in the Congressional offices. Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN) called the Capitol Police to complain about Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-CO) smoking a cigar in his office. Rep. Tancredo has been doing this for almost a decade, has several air cleaners, and every right to smoke in his private office…. for now. Apparently, Rep. Ellison felt the aroma of a lit cigar was a compelling enough reason to alert the police. Unbelievable! But true. This is what the anti-smoking fervor has come to on Capitol Hill. In some strange way, I am happy this happened so our legislators can feel the pain, castigation, restrictions, and humiliation that civilian connoisseurs feel every day.
Ultimately, this is not an issue about subjecting helpless people to noxious fumes or dangerous carcinogens. Rep. Ellison and the majority of our society feel a personal right to protect themselves from “Odor Annoyance”. Frankly, this idea is ridiculous. I can’t begin to estimate how many disgusting perfumes, ointments, and other smells I have been subjected to over the years. Once, I was on a plane flying out of Havana with a couple of dozen tourists from a specific country (ethnicity omitted in order to not offend) who smelled of fermented sweat and other disgusting, yet natural odors. The synergy of stink was nauseating. It was horrible, I wanted to vomit the whole trip, but I knew I had no right to tell others how often they should bathe.
The absolute worst Odor pet peeve of mine is Acetone. And every time my girlfriend opens that bottle to do her nails, I nearly begin to convulse. I get the same feeling when I walk into a beauty salon and smell the hair chemicals they use. I would not be surprised to find out years from now that Acetone and these “beauty” chemicals are responsible for increased birth defects, autism, or more stupidity in general.
Obviously we have no right to smell pretty things all the time. But where do we draw the line? Some towns and cities throughout our country have anti-smoking restrictions in place which keep people from smoking within 10 to 25 feet of any doorway. Yet a massive truck can park itself 7 feet from the front door of my Retail Tobacconists in Princeton and New Hope and exhaust themselves all day long. Many Americans are exposed to extreme levels of pollution coming from cars and trucks every day and on every road; yet smoking is the “Big Evil”.
Persecuting smokers is just a distraction from addressing more significant issues. There are so many chemicals and pollutants in our air, that the even the Surgeon General’s report on secondhand smoke admits that there are far too many other environmental factors, other than secondhand smoke, that are far too encompassing and present in today’s society that may cause a multitude of health issues and problems.

Jorge Armenteros, CMT

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