- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 22, 2005

D.C. Council member Carol Schwartz touts a smoking-ban compromise in one breath and a claim that people are dying in another.

The latter is unassailable, as the at-large Republican tars the smoking-ban proponents of the D.C. Council with their own argument. There is death all around us in the nation’s capital — death by tobacco, death by alcohol, death by promiscuous sex, death by an infinite number of unwise practices.

I type these words while munching from a fat-filled bag of potato chips. The bag should come with a skull-and-crossbones warning. Eating is dangerous stuff, as we have come to learn. Living, too.

Yes, council members, save us from ourselves. Be the nannies we so desperately want in our lives. Add a sin tax to a bag of potato chips, to a cheeseburger, to a box of pizza, to a dozen chicken wings, to a quart of ice cream and a block of cheddar cheese. Help us, please.

Mrs. Schwartz is in on the joke, of course, and although her smoking-ban compromise is unappealing, it was proposed in the context of political realities. So many human behaviors lead to a slow death that it is difficult to grasp the political worthiness of one and not all the others.

This is why Mrs. Schwartz — wink, wink — is willing to be the leading prohibitionist of our times, if only to point to the fallacy of a smoking ban.

And, rightly so, she also is concerned about our driving and sexual habits, some of which lead to a far quicker death than a wisp of smoke at the other end of a pub.

All Mrs. Schwartz is saying is give life a chance; if you want to fashion a nanny state, then be consistent. Check every last bad habit at the door of restaurants and bars.

Mrs. Schwartz says our city’s eating establishments and watering holes should be limited to serving “tea, sodas and milk,” with which I disagree.

Tea packs too much caffeine, sodas too much sugar, and milk, if it is whole milk, too much fat.

I think we all would be a lot healthier if we limited our beverage intake to lead-free water, orange juice, cranberry juice and pomegranate juice. So I am challenging the 13-member D.C. Council today to craft legislation that taxes those establishments that fail to meet a 25 percent, gross-receipts minimum of life-affirming juices.

Give Mrs. Schwartz credit. You want to ban smoking in the city because of health concerns? Then, by all means, we need to do better than that. We can be better than that.

Mrs. Schwartz has noticed all the people dropping in our midst from a lifetime of bad habits, from K Street to New York Avenue, from M Street to Connecticut Avenue, and she has decided that if her colleagues are headstrong in going down the slippery slope of government-imposed clean living, then let’s do it. Let’s rock.

While the D.C. Council members are hard at work trying to preserve life, perhaps they should hold a mandated Fetal Position Day, where we all stay at home curled up in a corner of the room with our nuts and berries and bottled water.

It is dangerous out there, it really is, and there are no guarantees in life, and if I were a member of the D.C. Council, I would want everyone to know that an apple a day keeps the doctor away.

As for the air-quality alerts that haunt our city in the dog days of summer, the council should pass a law, not unlike the seat-belt law, that requires all residents and visitors to wear a medically approved surgical mask. Or be fined.

We may have lead in our water, rats and raccoons in our trash-strewn streets, and the bladder-challenged relieving themselves in full view of us, but we can have smoke-free taverns that serve whole grains, one clove of garlic and 4 ounces of fish and free cholesterol tests.

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