As numbers dwindle, statewide ban on public puffing more likely - East Valley Tribune: Opinion

As numbers dwindle, statewide ban on public puffing more likely

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Posted: Thursday, August 25, 2005 10:40 pm | Updated: 8:31 am, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

Language for a long-awaited proposed ballot initiative calling for a statewide ban on smoking inside all public buildings — including bars and restaurants — is nearly ready.

Look for a petition-passer soon in front of a library or grocery store near you, asking for your support for a question targeted for the November 2006 ballot.

The ban would be similar to those in California and New York City.

If enough signatures are gathered, local barkeeps and restaurateurs who may not like such a virtually all-encompassing prohibition nonetheless will have two choices:

- Support it so that at least all will compete on a level, though nearly completely smokeless, playing field.

- Oppose it. If it’s defeated, face continuation of the painful, uneven, piecemeal system where neighboring Valley cities have widely varying rules, sending smoking customers headlong across the municipal border.

More than 40 years after the initial surgeon general’s report linking cigarettes to lung cancer and heart disease, it is well-settled that public smoking is a threat to public health. At worst, second-hand smoke poses potential medical harm to others; at least, it’s a serious annoyance to those who are trying to eat a meal that they paid to enjoy, not endure. The so-called “right” to smoke has had less and less currency among a public that is each year is made up of more non-smokers.

Smokers are literally a dying breed; in most of our lifetimes we have seen their number dwindle from about one in three of us to less than one in five. It is reasonable to imagine that such a ballot proposition will have the overwhelming support of the four out of five who do not smoke.

For several years, Valley cities did have the opportunity to do the right thing themselves, of course, but not enough of them did. None of those who avoided it had any valid reasons beyond keeping their city treasuries full of smokers’ sales-tax dollars.

Restaurants and bars are still doing quite well in California seven years after its statewide ban was enacted; that is to say, we know of no one who moved to Arizona because we didn’t have such a law here.

Arizona smokers will do well to prepare for likelihood of their having to smoke only outside or at home. Those who find it a strong impetus to quit smoking at last will join the rest of us in better health — and more enjoyable eating.

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