Hi. My name is Kate Wallace and I'm a photographer, graphic designer, and writer.

I went to the College of Saint Benedict for a liberal studies major with an emphasis on graphic design. Three years later I decided that wasn't enough and got a master's degree in mass communications.

I like the creative side of logistics. There are many times when I identify with being a left-brainer, then there are other times when I completely understand the right side of my brain. I may not be a very innovative graphic artist, but I am definitely a graphic designer. I love to write creative non-fiction and revel in the rules of punctuation and spelling. Photography combines the artistic and the logistics in everything about it.

Take a look; have a peek; chance a glance.

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Why I’m on the Fence

Yesterday afternoon the governor signed into effect the smoking ban for Minnesota.

You know me, normally I have a lot to say about different political issues, but this is one issue where I can see both sides of the fence, and I’m sitting firmly on the fencepost.

Personally, it doesn’t affect me. I don’t smoke, and I’m not going to raise a fuss if I have to go to a restaurant where there’s a smoking section. I sit in smoking sections. I don’t particularly like inhaling smoke along with my food, but if the food is good, I’ll deal with it. I think if all places were required to install high-end ventilation systems, that might have been sufficient.

So, the two sides. First, the pro-ban side. Second-hand smoke affects people other than smokers. I inhale second-hand smoke and it’s possible I get lung cancer. the issue here is that when I go to a restaurant, bar, bowling alley, etc., my right to breathe clean air is diminished by the smokers. Sure, I can choose not to go to that establishment, but why should my right to breathe clean air interfere with my right to visit establishments that allow smoking? Why should I be the one who has to limit my selection of eateries or entertainment because of smokers? I’ve seen a list of non-smoking restaurants in st cloud. You know what it consists of? Fast-food restaurants, ethnic food places, and really expensive places. No TGIFridays or Granite Cities or other mid-priced Americana food fare. Smokers not only affect themselves when they smoke; they hurt others too. You can drink til you pass out and all you’re doing is hurting yourself (as long as you don’t drive). You can eat all you want, and the only person’s health you’re affecting is yours. You shoot up drugs til your inner elbows are nothing but track marks and I won’t care because all you’re doing is hurting your own health. But the moment you light up that cigarette, you are infringing on my right to healthy air and lungs because of secondhand smoke.

Now the anti-ban side. The major argument here is private ownership, and owners of establishments have a right to choose whether or not they can allow smoking. The person owns the land, built the building, pays for the help, food, liquor, etc., to provide people with a place to eat or be entertained. They pay for everything and they have a right to choose whether smoking should be allowed in that establishment. If people would rather not be in a place where there is smoking, or a smoking section, then they should go somewhere else. If employees are alarmed at the amount of secondhand smoke they’re inhaling, they have the opportunity to quit their job and find work elsewhere. The people who come into the restaurant, bar, bowling alley, etc., have a choice to come in to that place or not. They also have a choice to choose the smoking section or not. Basically, the market will decide whether or not smoking or nonsmoking establishments are what the people want. Supply and demand is all the people need. If enough people don’t eat at a restaurant because it allows smoking, the owner will change it to a nonsmoking restaurant and they should start to see business pick up again. Private ownership is the key to a capitalist society, and supply and demand will dictate whether smoking should be allowed in an establishment.

Seriously, what it comes down to is who “owns” the air we breathe and whose rights trump whose?

But concerning the health of people who work at these establishments, it doesn’t really make sense to have passed the clean air act way back when for most workplaces to be smokefree, and then have a big chunk of the workforce still working in places where smoking is allowed.