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Smoke free is the way to be in McDuffie County

Don't you just hate it when anyone tells you what to do?

I know I do, especially when it tinkers with old habits or when it becomes a law and we are "forced" to change?

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But we also understand that sometimes these laws are aimed at the greater good of society.

For example, we cannot drive as fast as we might want. It not only endangers ourselves, but it also puts others at risk. In most states, motorcycle riders are supposed to wear helmets. It is probably more fun to ride without a helmet. But, people tend to have more head injuries when the wreck comes, so it was made into a law.

It is the same with seat belts. I used to stand on the seat beside Daddy when we drove around in the car. However, by the time I started driving, the law said seat belts were mandatory because they saved so many lives each year. You would think as adults we should be able to decide for ourselves whether or not we want to wear our seatbelts or let our children stand on the seat beside us. But now it seems negligent to do so. When I look back, I suspect I was lucky. Daddy never had a wreck while I was with him. He was slow to be converted to using his seatbelt. He did not like the government telling him what to do. Isn't it similar to other governmental interventions concerning water quality, construction standards, air quality for cities, food inspections for restaurants, guns, and on and on?

Our hospital has been smoke free for several years. People can still smoke. But they have a little smoking gazebo out back and away from the hospital where they may go. It was a local decision and certainly a wise one. I forget exactly when there started to be smoking and non-smoking sections in restaurants and in other public places. Second-hand smoke exposes everyone (restaurant employees and customers) to the hazards of smoking -- maybe not to the intensity as smokers, but statistics prove it to be true. Doesn't a smoker's right to smoke infringe on my right to breathe clean air? Should I really smell like a Camel after I have come back from eating out?

On behalf of the McDuffie Regional Medical Staff and Health Link, I think the time has come to advance beyond smoking sections and to make McDuffie County smoke free. Many restaurants are scared of becoming smoke free because they believe they will lose customers. But statistics do not bear this out. Table turnover tends to be quicker if smokers cannot linger and smoke. But, they can still enjoy their cigarettes in the car or outside. A blanket ban on smoking would lift this fear and put everyone on common ground.

Michael's restaurant was one of the first in the area to go smoke-free several years ago. Business has actually improved, and they have received thanks from many customers. Taco Bell and Zaxby's are smoke free. This no-smoking plan sounds supremely logical to me. It flows with what doctors ask patients to do all day long; however, there is a process in getting a ban passed.

First of all, I have got to get my introverted self up before the commissioners on Nov. 16, 2004 and request a public hearing. I hope they will agree that the benefit of protecting the majority of the public from second hand smoke will outweigh the dislike the minority may have when they are asked to give up one of the places where they like to smoke.

I hope both smokers and nonsmokers can attend the meeting.

But, please remember smoking is not allowed in government buildings.



Web posted on Thursday, November 4, 2004


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