I would like to thank Asheville and everyone who was involved for a wonderful Bele Chere. I saw some great bands, hung out with friends and had an overall pleasant time.
I was downtown for some business on Friday around 11:30 a.m. and I decided to walk my bike through Bele Chere to see the excitement brewing. There were many vendors setting up and people milling around. There was one relatively long line of about 35 people. It was for the air-conditioned, free-tobacco-wielding booth, operated by scantily dressed women. You have to admit, pushing free addictive products, dispersed by half-naked women in enclosed booths with AC while it’s pushing 90 degrees outside is a pretty good business model. Regardless, it was sad to see multiple families lined up for the free tobacco products.
I know we live in America and we have the right to choose, but do those babies in the strollers have a right to choose whether they stand in that line or not? Statistics show that children whose parents smoke are twice as likely to smoke as children of nonsmokers. Smoking is addictive and tobacco use is the No. 1 preventive cause of death in America.
Asheville has adopted many smoke-free zones in restaurants and parks, and recognized the health risks that smoking and secondhand smoke pose. Could we please ban the tobacco booth at all future Bele Chere festivals? I’m sure some other organization would happily pick up their space. Maybe one that’s not hell bent on killing you and taking your money.
— Mark Strazzer