Up in Smoke

Head butts: I can't think of a more worthless cause to defend and more worthless arguments than that smoking helps you pick up chicks, burn calories and that it generates tax revenue ["Got a Light?" by Keith Plocek, May 12]. As if there were no better ways to do any of those things.

I hope the argument about Mussolini and Hitler being nonsmokers was tongue-in-cheek.

However, the author should not worry so much about his lungs. His head is a bigger priority.

Name withheld by request

PC police: Ironically, as a nonsmoker, I found Keith Plocek's article on the benefits of smoking to be a bit biased to all of us nonsmokers, but nonetheless quite refreshing. We live in an age of PC, where everything must be whitewashed, sterile and full of plastic smiles. When it comes to socially acceptable substances, sorry, smokers, your season is out -- prescription meds are in.

I've never been much of a stoic, but there is one saying that stuck with me: "Deal with it." If you don't want to be surrounded by smoke, don't go into that bar or club. Personally, if this law passes I might break into tears at the next concert, due to a lack of an all-too-familiar smell.

I love live music and everything associated with it. That gritty, dirty, sweaty, smoky aroma of a soaked concert tee the next day is priceless. I can honestly say that's my potpourri. And to all of you self-righteous pricks who mimic and mock smokers in public, shame on you. Everyone knows the effects of smoking, and if these people decide to smoke, that's their choice, not yours to make for them.

Honestly, I worry that if they're able to take away a person's right to smoke in a bar, club or restaurant, what will they take away next?

To each his own.

Shane Tolbert

Ashtray challenged: I'm sure my mother thought smoking made her sexy and sophisticated too, when she started as a young girl. Now I'm watching my once-vivacious, once-beautiful mother die slowly with emphysema, and it is definitely not cool.

And, yes, it may be true that cigarette taxes help pay for roads, schools and hospitals; smokers seem to think that gives them the right to use the planet as their ashtray. There are 4.5 trillion nonbiodegradable cigarette butts thoughtlessly tossed into the environment by inconsiderate, selfish smokers every year.

I guarantee that if every restaurant in Harris Country goes smoke-free, smokers will still come out to dine. I doubt seriously that they will eat at home seven days a week because they can't puff their lungs out in a restaurant for an hour or two. Most restaurants' ventilation systems are inadequate; nonsmoking sections are mostly a joke.

And excuse me, Mr. Plocek, but those same pharmaceutical companies you claim fund the antismoking advocates also supply the drugs to the smokers dying of emphysema and lung cancer. Put that in your pipe and smoke it!

Susan Cherico

Dead wrong: This article is unbelievable. It's like one of those "Truth" commercials, so insanely naive about the dangers of smoking that it is absurd. Did a teenager write this article? Is it a joke that I am not getting? Basically, smokers are cool and laid-back and good tippers; smoking gets you laid, lets you lose weight and "Oh, don't tell me I can't smoke, fascist nonsmoker!"

You sound like my grandfather, who died saying all of the above, while we had to truck him to the hospital for two heart attacks and treat his bronchitis, and had the privilege of watching him die. Very cool...You can add two aunts to that list, and a father-in-law who had a massive heart attack, and my father, who is having to suffer trying to quit because it is directly affecting his health. You don't just keel over when you die from smoking; there's a good amount of suffering in some form of cancer or heart disease.

Secondhand smoke may not kill me, but it fries my sinuses and makes me stink like a smokestack, and your forcing me to endure that is fascist in itself. We're sneering 'cause we're watching you kill yourself and we care.

Name withheld by request

Frost Town Fights

Thanks to Farris: Thank you for writer Greg Harman; he is new, and his approach to speaking truth to power is just as fresh ["Path to Nowhere?" May 12]. I lived and worked within old Frost Town back in the mid-'80s, when this area was truly a mess. I watched Kirk Farris just keep going against all odds, carving out beauty and replacing a garbage dump. To say this guy deserves respect from the Buffalo Bayou Partnership is an understatement. Everything that guy said would happen, he and his associates have made happen.

Please continue to examine the privatization of Buffalo Bayou and the BBP. Let's look at the City of Houston's motives. It seems that the public works department is working for the BBP and a handful of property developers. This is legal, yes. But ethical? I'm not sure!

Robert Graham

Pedaling Perils

MS ego trippers: I've been doing the MS 150 since 1998, and the people complaining most about safety are the ones who are the biggest problem ["Bloody Biking," Hair Balls, May 5]. They see the event as a race, not a tour, and blast past crowds of slower, older and less experienced riders like a speeding freight train.

They disregard established bicycle safety rules (and common sense) by riding on aerobars in pace lines, not calling out that they're passing, and generally acting like they own the road. This kind of arrogance and disrespect for the cause in the name of showing off athleticism is uncalled for in an event like this.

Some of these people ride their bikes the same way they drive their cars. Since many of them are marginal fund-raisers, if the MS Society required riders to turn in pledges before the ride, these egotistical jerks would never be on the road that weekend anyway.

If they want to ride fast, then let them organize their own ride. The MS 150 doesn't need these creeps.

Name withheld by request

Bad mix of riders: Just saw Peter Wong's take on the MS 150 ride this year; his opinion is shared by several riders who come to my Starbucks for coffee in the morning before they practice on weekends.

After the MS event, I asked how the ride went. I got an earful, and so did the rest of the customers standing around. I don't care if it's "old school"; you need to use some sense when racers are mixing with neophytes that just ride on big occasions.

Would you let amateurs race in the Indy 500 alongside the pros? If these guys at the MS Society don't wake up, they will be facing a lawsuit one of these days.

Virginia Serna


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