A little bit of courtesy goes a long way

Joe Tarica.
Joe Tarica.

I don’t doubt that electronic cigarettes are a lesser evil than the real thing, but that’s not a good enough reason to allow users to vape in public places.

I also don’t doubt they’ve helped many smokers replace their deadly habit, but that doesn’t mean I want to deal with your new puffing in places where your old puffing is banned.

If I’m walking by you on a city street, the only thing coming out of your mouth should be your own invisible hot air, not a geyser of steam and certainly not one laced with nicotine.

So I was pleased to see the San Luis Obispo City Council hold the line on its smoking ban, keeping e-cigarettes out of all the same places as traditional smokes.

This decision goes along with my overall outlook on how we interact with each other outside of our own homes. As a general rule, I’m against those kinds of public behaviors that infringe on the rights or personal space of others.

If what you’re doing to give yourself pleasure unreasonably limits my own pursuit of happiness, I’m probably going to be against it.

So yeah, I’m not a libertarian. I believe in personal freedoms to the extent they can coexist with the personal freedoms of others and the overall well-being of our society.

Obviously this is open to interpretation, but I definitely land on the more extreme end at protecting public places from damaging or selfish uses. And that goes from the egregious to the downright trivial.

I’m irritated when people leave their trash at the beach. Hey, deadbeat, trot that sad sack of yours over to the can and deposit your garbage where it belongs.

Rude drivers make my blood boil. I don’t care if you’re in the fast lane. You don’t have a right to roar up behind me at 85 mph and flash your lights like a 2-year-old demanding a piece of candy. It’s not the Autobahn. If you want to break the law, figure out how to do it without involving me.

I would ban loud mufflers on motorcycles. Stop spoiling our quiet byways with your macho engine noise. There’s a place for that. It’s called North Carolina.

When you’re at the movies, don’t talk. When you play hoops at the park, don’t pretend you’re Shaq and tear down the nets. And when you’re relaxing on the plane, keep your infernal seat upright already!

In other words, be considerate. Understand this golden rule: In the majority of cases, the best application of freedom recognizes how equally entitled to it we all are and that it can only exist in moderation with each other.

So by all means, improve your health and switch from smoking to vaping. Just do it at home.