To the editor:
In response to the letter "Jim Crow Returns?" of June 20:
If a black man and a white man should choose to freely associate inside a public establishment, then that is their business. This is altogether right and proper. While they are associating, if one or both of them chooses to consume alcohol, in a manner consistent with the law, then this too is altogether right and proper. If a third party is nearby, also freely associating and/or imbibing, then under civil circumstances no harm should come to him or her. No harm, that is, unless either of the first two men smokes a cigarette.
Medical science has shown that cigarette smoke is a potentially serious health hazard to non-smokers, especially in closed environments. Nondrinkers are allowed to visit a bar without consuming any alcohol. Shouldn't nonsmokers be afforded the same courtesy with regard to indoor cigarette smoke?
To disallow the free association of nonsmokers, as happens in the many businesses nonsmokers give up their nonsmoking status to patronize, is an affront to the freedom and individual rights of nonsmokers everywhere. Not wanting to cloud the issue, however, I would stop short of making misplaced comparisons with abolished laws imposing the will of slave holders on those they see as suited for enslavement. This issue is more about the responsibility of civil government to enforce laws that maintain an environmental health standard balanced with its responsibility of protecting the individual rights of all citizens, smoker and nonsmoker alike.