Throughout my 34 years as a physician (including 9 years active duty in the U.S. Navy starting during the Vietnam conflict) I have struggled against "Big Tobacco's" relentless grip on the American population. The U.S. government actually played a large role in this by giving free cigarettes to soldiers during military conflicts and providing cheap cigarettes to soldiers and sailors for many years, leading our society to question "How can tobacco be dangerous if our government does this?"
Tobacco was then, is now, and will always be a dangerous and highly addictive product. The failure of our government to come to this conclusion many decades ago is unfortunate, but it doesn't change the fact that national, state, county and municipal authorities have the responsibility to protect citizens from the medical risks of unwanted tobacco smoke in public places and to help protect our children from becoming addicted to nicotine.
It is almost absurd that nicotine is the main "gateway drug" to most other drug addictions while it is also both legal and potentially lethal.
Most veterans do not smoke, but the local veteran-based fraternal organizations ignore this fact and continue to encourage smoking in their facilities. As a result, I and the great majority of veterans who do not smoke or who want to avoid the polluted air cannot use their services. We deserve better than this.
John W. Aldis