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July 17, 1987

The Closet Beckons

Author Affiliations

Des Moines

Des Moines

JAMA. 1987;258(3):314. doi:10.1001/jama.1987.03400030030010

She asked impulsively, "You, why do you stay here?" "I have the village virus." "It sounds dangerous." "It is. More dangerous than the cancer that will certainly get me at fifty, unless I stop smoking."

Sinclair Lewis, Main Street

"I can't believe this trend, I just can't. It's ridiculous. Why, the next thing you know smokers will be required to wear a big red letter 'S' on their chests. Nonsmoking areas in restaurants, airplanes, hotels, office buildings, hospitals: where is it going to end?"

"Why are you so fired up, Gordo? You can still smoke."

"Yeah, sure, but I'm being forced into a closet. It seems to me there's an incredible vacuum in the proverbial closet that has to be filled. When one social group is granted permission by society to exit, another group is forced in to fill the void. Let me ask you this: what's so bad about