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A recently-proposed law that would make it illegal for parents to smoke in their vehicles when their children are present is a step too far in a well-intended direction. It is a scary indication of what could happen to individual rights — and responsibility — if the herd-like tendencies of a segment of society are allowed to prevail.

Signing an anti-smoking petition is easy because that particular health risk is a well-accepted target. But where are the attempts to legislate against other equally health-threatening things?

Do we see legislation to ban the eating of cholesterol-inducing fried foods, say, six days a week? The odor of french fries or onion rings is offensive to some people.

Do we see legislation banning consumption of anything except organically-grown foods to avoid health-threatening additives?

If regulating one’s rights is to become the norm, how about legislation protecting the rights of drivers of small, fuel-efficient vehicles who are gravely endangered by suburban utility vehicles and high-riding pick-ups that block their view of the highway ahead?

We can’t seem to legislate against government waste, or to enforce immigration laws. It seems, however, that we can easily restrict the purchase of low-cost medicines outside the country to protect the greed of corporate executives, and we can certainly aim legislation at the rights of smokers.

To folks who instinctively recoil and begin finger-pointing when they see a cigarette, you had better start working to shut down harmful diesel exhaust from the trucks that bring your food, and you should prevent anyone from heating their homes with smoke-creating wood or coal that is bad for your lungs.

And jeepers, you’d better stop filling up your vehicle’s gasoline tank from now on because the fumes are highly toxic, and here in Massachusetts, the locking pump handles that allowed you to move your nose away from the fumes have been legislated into oblivion.



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