The first meeting of the minds on McDuffie County's proposed smoking ban lasted just an hour Monday night, but the path for ban advocates became clear.
While proponents of the ban cited second-hand smoke statistics, used clever analogies about attempting to chlorinate only half a pool and spoke of the greater good of public health, representatives of the other side focused on smokers' rights and limiting big government.
But it was what the commissioners said that sets the tone as both groups move forward.
McDuffie County commissioner Darrell Wester -- as did Chairman Charlie Newton in subsequent television interviews -- made it very clear that the proposed ordinance in its current state isn't very appetizing to local leaders. It puts too many controls in place -- covering any business in the county with one or more employee, they said.
Admittedly, telling a mechanic with a couple of employees in the back of his shop that they can't smoke is a little disconcerting. That's a far cry from stopping someone from smoking in the adjacent booth in your favorite restaurant.
So what should McDuffie County's smoking ban advocates do? Just what Dr. Wester suggested: head back to the word processor and send commissioners a new version of the ordinance -- one that covers eating establishments, government buildings and a few other places, but stays away from limiting the rights of most small business owners.
The smoking ban is not an issue that is going to go away and those in favor of it should not bury it with stipulations that could guarantee the ordinance gets snuffed out.