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Letter to the editor – Individual rights

By Staff | Feb 7, 2008

To the EDN:

Don’t let any level of government take away any person’s personal individual rights!

Because Minnesota has the mumps Iowa doesn’t have to have the same disease. Minnesota recently passed legislation that it is illegal to smoke in a public place. This allowed the non-smoker to be in an area where smoking was not allowed. All people had the right of choice. In Minnesota the smoker, who is now in the minority, has two choices quit or go outside in this inclement weather and take a smoke break. Yesterday I witnessed 27 employees of a telemarketing company standing outside having a smoke break. Ten degrees below zero taking a break in shirt sleeves. Really good for their health. I also witnessed five residents and an employee of a nursing home standing outside having a cigarette break. The temperature was zero degrees. Two had walkers and one was in a wheelchair. The sad thing is these residents are paying up to $1.50 per day for this convenience. This in my opinion is insane and inhumane treatment of our senior citizens. All of these facilities have rooms and areas where these people could smoke in comfort and not be unnecessarily exposed to the elements of inclement weather. The technology is available for clean air.

Let us digress for a moment. All public places are required to have invalid accessible rest rooms. They all have to have designated parking spaces close to the entrances for these individuals. I’m totally in favor of these requirements. These minority citizens certainly deserve this meager accommodation. It is my opinion that these people who are a much smaller minority than the smokers need to help the smokers preserve their rights. America has been smoking for the past 388 years since the establishment of the Plymouth Colony in 1620. Nicotine is addictive just as alcohol can be addictive. Nicotine does not make your life unmanageable. It is illegal to take a drink outside of Mother Natures and drink it in the parking lot. Now are you considering forcing smokers to smoke outside only? What am I missing with this picture?

Last year our brilliant legislators in Minnesota were short of money for the educational fund. They decided to place a $1.10 tax on each pack of cigarettes. They passed the legislation and raised the price. People who live in the border counties all went to Iowa to save $11 per carton. I was one of these individuals. Instead of going to Fairmont, I went to Estherville to buy cigarettes. I also bought my groceries at Fareway, purchased my gas at Casey’s, bought my prescriptions from Estherville Drug, my hardware from Stalls and ate lunch at Bud’s. The border towns of northern Iowa didn’t have to support a local Chamber of Commerce. The genius Minnesota legislature drove business across the borders. In my case, a $22 purchase of cigarettes brought an additional $150 of additional business to Estherville a week. Hundreds of people did that same thing. Low and behold, the geniuses down in Des Moines couldn’t stand prosperity. They got greedy and increased their state cigarette tax, killing the migration to Iowa for savings. You want proof of this check the cigarette purchase volume then and now in the Estherville outlets.

Rex W. Oberhelman

Fairmont, MN

Editor’s Note: This is the first half of Oberhelman’s letter. Part two will be in Friday’s edition.