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I have watched with great interest these past few weeks, the debates and controversies of smoking vs. nonsmoking restaurants. I believe that much of the debate could be settled by one word: respect.

If a smoker wants to light up in a crowd, it is wise and courteous to ask those present if they mind. On the other hand, when a nonsmoker is faced with the unpleasant task of being in proximity to a smoker, and it bothers him or her, politeness is a surprisingly effective tactic.Too often I have seen smokers light up in crowds without bothering to ask if it would offend anyone. By the same token, I (as a smoker) have been offended by nonsmokers and their exaggerated coughing, glares and rude remarks.

All one needs do is say something like: "Excuse me, but your cigarette smoke is bothering me. Would you mind putting it out? I'd appreciate it."

Sure, I just spent hard-earned money on that smoke. But when the nonsmoker puts it that way, who could resist? I feel more like cooperating when I'm asked, rather than told to do something.

In the meantime, I will hope that I am allowed to continue to smoke in a restaurant. I'll be more thoughtful of those around me who don't share my enjoyment of tobacco. But let's not let ourselves get all bent out of shape about the issue. After all, none of us has to go out to eat.

James W. Hofheins

West Valley City