I have found the recent letters regarding the so-called "right to smoke" a little unsettling. Smoking is an addiction and a serious health hazard that costs our country enormous amounts of money in lost productivity and health costs, to say nothing of the cost in lives and quality of life. The only thing distinguishing smoking from alcoholism and other destructive forms of addiction is that it happens to be legal, and furthermore well-protected by politically entrenched corporate interests, such as R.J. Reynolds. The punitive measures taken against the tobacco industry by the Clinton administration were a step in the right direction. The smoking bans imposed by local and state governments have been even more encouraging.
There is no "right to smoke" enshrined in the Constitution. The Constitution gives the federal government wide-ranging powers to regulate interstate commerce, just as state and local governments also have economic regulatory powers. As a product specifically designed to addict people, as a major cause of the health problems that plague our population, cigarettes enjoy no special constitutional protection, however well they may be shielded by cynical politicians. It has nothing to do with this being "the United States." States and towns have the right to ban smoking for the very same reasons that they ban or restrict drugs, alcohol, speeding, and the discharging of firearms within the city limits.