To the Editor:
I am forced to disagree with one of the finest thinkers in our modern world. In “Furtive Smokers—and What They Tell Us About America” [June], the brilliant Peter L. Berger is at least partially correct in warning us of the threats to our personal liberties by the politically-correct crowd. Unfortunately, in defending the alleged freedom to smoke, he has gone one step too far, slipping unwittingly into argument ad hominem. Mr. Berger overlooks the overwhelming evidence that smoking transcends mere individual preference and has adverse social consequences that simply cannot be ignored.
Smoking harms not only the health of those who indulge, but the nonsmoker is also subject to irritation, if not actual medical damage, from secondhand smoke. . . . The deteriorating physical condition of the smoker places enormous economic stress on our private-insurance programs and government-welfare system. There is no legitimacy to claims of an autonomous right of self-destruction if others are financially imposed upon. We no longer have an obligation to be tolerant.
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