Smoking ban protects health of all residents

To The Daily: Some members of the Decatur City Council still fail to understand the reason behind the smoking ban: Reducing second-hand smoke in public places allows the citizens of Decatur to live longer. Period.

The idea that a business owner “has a right to choose” completely misses the point that a smoking ban protects not just customers, but also employees. While businesses have tried for years (usually unsuccessfully) to segregate smokers and non-smokers, no businesses try to protect their nonsmoking employees from smoking customers.

An amendment that allows business owners to permit smoking in their establishments will create one of two situations: Either business owners will be required to hire only employees who smoke, or business owners will be forcing their nonsmoking employees to breathe secondhand smoke.

Why does the “right to choose” extend only to business owners, and not also to non-smokers? Decatur’s ban on smoking in public buildings does not impede any person’s “right to smoke.” All smokers may continue to smoke in their homes, cars, and most outdoor public spaces. The current law serves only to protect those citizens who do not wish have cheap cigarettes smoke forced upon them.

I am proud to be a citizen of Decatur and proud that we have an anti-smoking policy that is both progressive and enlightened. The current smoking ban shows the world that our city takes seriously the concept of encouraging a healthy lifestyle for all its citizens. Why would we feel the need to imitate the smoking policies from Huntsville or Florence, when those policies are flawed?

Our city leaders should avoid the political expediency of reverting to policies that will endanger the health and well-being of our community.


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