Editorial: Proof that smoking bans are a good idea

Published 12:00 am Monday, August 14, 2006

Here’s what most restaurateurs tell customers who smoke when they talk about smoking bans: A smoking ban would hurt business.

Here’s what most restaurateurs tell their spouses and close friends: A smoking ban would help business and help keep our place clean. We would support a smoking ban but don’t let anyone know that.

Need proof? A national restaurant trade publication, the Nation’s Restaurant News, came out July 24 in favor of smoking bans in restaurants and other public locations. In a stern editorial, it wrote:

&8220;The argument against smoking in public indeed has become more compelling, and this could be an appropriate time for both associations and operators to reassess their positions on this controversial issue.&8221;

The editorial leads off by citing a 670-page report from the U.S. surgeon general &8220;strongly condemning secondhand smoke and portraying it as a serious health hazard to nonsmokers.&8221;

The surgeon general called the evidence on the danger of secondhand smoke &8220;indisputable,&8221; giving lawmakers around the country a good weapon when calling for smoking bans.

And there’s more. The Pennsylvania Restaurant Association, which opposed stricter smoking regulations in that state for years, changed its tune this summer after the surgeon general’s report came out. It called on Pennsylvania lawmakers to ban smoking in all workplaces, including restaurants, bars and casinos.

Wow!

Clearly, we need to catch up with the rest of the country. Twenty-two states prohibit smoking in restaurants. Eleven ban smoking in bars and casinos, too.

We again argue in favor of a smoking ban in Freeborn County for any establishment where minors can enter. We feel it is unfair for children to breathe secondhand smoke, even when it wafts from clear across a large room. And we feel it is a bad example when adults smoke in front of children. Period.

The state of Minnesota should take the lead and pass a statewide smoking ban for restaurants. Because state lawmakers are too chicken &045; yes, chicken &045;&160;to lead on this issue, it has been enjoyable to see local governments around the state taking action. We are eager for Freeborn County and/or Albert Lea to do the same.

And soon. Our children are waiting.