City Council’s Double Standard Pointed out in Jack Bass’ Commentary in Sunday’s Post & Courier

On-street smoking ban not consistent

As the son of a chain-smoking father, I’ve smoked two cigarettes in my life. The first, when I was 12, tasted bad. The other came much later, when driving with my three young children (now all parents of teenagers) and their mother from a weekend visit with friends at their Lake Marion cottage. We headed home to Columbia on paved back roads on a late summer, Sunday afternoon.

As we approached a rural railroad crossing, a small moving train suddenly appeared in the twilight, seconds away from what appeared a collision course. I slammed on brakes, swerved onto the right of way, and came to a bumpy halt, perhaps 15 feet from the track. Only then did I realize it was a twilight optical illusion. The train, as it turned out, was actually backing away in the opposite direction.

But shaken and stimulated by a flow of adrenaline, I reached out for my then wife’s lighted cigarette. I deeply inhaled and experienced an enveloping release of tension. I promised myself that if ever again in such a situation, I would light up another cigarette. So far I haven’t.

The story is relevant because of Charleston City Council’s recent action to ban on-street smoking in a roughly 10-block area extending beyond the boundaries of the Roper/St. Francis and MUSC hospitals. This is the same City Council that refuses to require on-shore power for downtown cruise ships, whose toxic pollutants pose a genuine threat to public health in a far larger business and residential area. At least that’s what a past president of the state medical association has told us.

Consider for a moment that, say, a construction worker just processed admittance of his wife, his children’s mother, into the emergency room with severe chest pains. He feels the train is heading right at him. But if he goes out on the street to seek calming relaxation by smoking cigarette, he becomes a criminal and has to pay a fine.

Shame on the Charleston City Council for its surrender to power. Shame on Carnival Cruise Lines, which from their nine cruise lines sends Charleston the oldest and ugliest goat in the barn. Shame on the board of directors of the State Ports Authority for dereliction of duty.

Jack Bass

Queen Street