40 Years: Great American Smokeout hits hallmark

Monticello Times’ former publisher and editor Lynn Smith would no doubt be encouraged by the trend in smoking rates since the inaugural D-Day (Don’t Smoke Day) in Monticello nearly 40 years ago. In 1970 the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention counted more than 37 percent of Americans to be smokers; by 2010 that figure had dropped to just more than 19 percent and even lower than that (16.3 percent) in Minnesota.
Smith himself smoked for 17 years but quit when the first public correlations between smoking and lung cancer were revealed. He took his distaste for cigarettes public in 1972 with a full-page editorial in the Monticello Times called The Tyranny of Smoking, which sought to both encourage smokers to weigh the health consequences of smoking and embolden non-smokers to be more vocal about their own rights.
When he wrote The Tyranny of Smoking, the most recent progress toward protecting the rights of non-smokers included some airlines that provided segregated seating for smokers and non-smokers, hospitals beginning to restrict areas where smoking was permitted and doctors banning smoking in waiting rooms.
“Why should the one-third American adults who smoke have the right to foul up the breathing space of the two-thirds who do not?” Smith asked as he pushed for smoking bans in confined spaces.
“Your saying nix to nicotine may be only one small step for mankind, but it will be one giant step for yourself,” he concluded.

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