Protect everybody's air

Logic backs anti-smokers -- but people can't be protected from themselves

  • Follow Editorials

Anti-smoking advocates have the facts on their side, as well as a good share of public opinion.

What they may not be able to do is protect people from themselves.

A health official appearing before the Augusta Commission Tuesday made the case for a complete ban on smoking in bars and restaurants in Richmond County -- even those that do not admit or employ anyone younger than 18. Georgia law currently exempts such places from the statewide smoking ban.

The unfortunate consequence of the state law is that smokers now flock to a limited number of bars and restaurants that don't let minors in -- meaning the pollutants are likely even more concentrated than before.

The anti-smoking movement has logic on its side. Smoking isn't just hazardous to the smoker, and smoking establishments are providing toxic work environments.

Could they do that if we were talking about, say, tainted water or food instead of poisoned air? Of course not. The health department would shut it down in seconds.

And yet, everyone must breathe the air; not everyone must drink the same water or eat the same food. The urgency of a clean air environment is thus even more pronounced.

Fact is, logic -- and science -- would dictate that cigarettes simply be banned. They are potentially fatal when used as directed ; what other products on the market can make that dubious claim?

But while we wish all indoor places open to the public were smoke-free, forcing them to become so will be problematic. Smokers will likely cling to their last public refuges (while essentially making them intolerable and off-limits for nonsmokers who care about their health). And many nonsmokers who see it as an issue of individual liberty will support them.

We suspect that argument breaks down when one talks about employees at smoking establishments. It's difficult to understand how such toxic working environments are still being tolerated today.

One could argue that employees choose to work in such places, and that's true. Yet, that's true of all workplaces -- and government makes no bones about requiring healthy environments in those. Why be so hands-off when it comes to unhealthy air?

The anti-smoking advocates pressing the Augusta Commission to act -- including East Central Health District Director Ketty Gonzalez -- have been referred to the commission's Public Service Committee. It will be interesting to see what kind of traction they get with the commission.

You can't protect people from themselves, ultimately. But it's odd that there isn't already -- assuming there isn't -- state or federal healthy-workplace authority to protect the employees.

Comments (32) Add comment
ADVISORY: Users are solely responsible for opinions they post here and for following agreed-upon rules of civility. Posts and comments do not reflect the views of this site. Posts and comments are automatically checked for inappropriate language, but readers might find some comments offensive or inaccurate. If you believe a comment violates our rules, click the "Flag as offensive" link below the comment.
Asitisinaug
3
Points
Asitisinaug 07/21/11 - 01:57 am
0
0
It is legal to smoke at age

It is legal to smoke at age 18. Therefore, it should be legal to smoke in places that only employes and allows entry for those 18 and older. Business Owners should not have their rights stripped from the government to own and operate establishments catering to adult smokers.

I absolutely hate cigarette smoke but I fully support business oweners personal decisions over the government making the decisions for them.

Riverman1
84889
Points
Riverman1 07/21/11 - 04:23 am
0
0
Guys, no one is more

Guys, no one is more libertarian than I am (well, maybe Taylor), but I'm telling you cigarette smoke kills. Cardiac patients are about 90% smokers and I suspect those who don't smoke are close to those who do.

Decades ago the US used to test nuclear weapons above ground. It was discovered that strontium 90 was being released into the atmosphere when the blast went off and ending up in milk. The US had the right to continue testing because it was being done on our own soil, but we wisely stopped because we recognized the health threat. Sometimes you have to do the practical, necessary thing.

I've sat at the bar in The Finish Line and must have been the only non-smoker in the place. It ain't easy. I must have taken 20 years off my life.

Brad Owens
4583
Points
Brad Owens 07/21/11 - 04:25 am
0
0
AGAIN, The fact is, smoking

AGAIN,

The fact is, smoking is not an INDIVIDUAL rights issue unless you are on your OWN property, in your OWN house, or in your OWN car.

Smoking does kill people, it does cause health problems, it does cause lung cancer, and it does cause heart problems.

Polluting MY/OUR air is not YOUR right.

I support individual freedoms and all of the Bill of Rights 100%, but smoking up public places with dangerous toxic fumes is not a right and no one can point me to the part of the BOR that includes harming others for your pleasure.

This is a public health and safety issue, not an individual rights issue, and the giverment has an obligation to protect the public. Again, you have NO right to put noxious, harmful, toxic, poisonous, deadly, lethal, venomous, and injurious fumes in the public air.

In fact, if a company did what YOU did when you smoke in public places they would be fined by the EPA.

Now, if ever they ('they' being the guvment) tries to take your right to smoke in your OWN property, in your OWN house, or in your OWN car away, I will be a staunch defender and help fight it.

Just my opinion,

Brad

Brad Owens
4583
Points
Brad Owens 07/21/11 - 04:32 am
0
0
RM1, do you ever sleep? It is

RM1, do you ever sleep? It is 10:30hrs here in Lusaka Zambia and I am just now getting around to chacking the news back home, you must never sleep.

Brad

copperhead
1035
Points
copperhead 07/21/11 - 05:01 am
0
0
Cars kill people! THAT is a

Cars kill people! THAT is a fact. We need to outlaw EVERYTHING that could possibly do ANY harm to ANYBODY today! Take all rights away for the sake of safety! Don't care about freedom as long as we think are safer. It takes 40,000 smokers to emit the same carbon as an suv. Wonder WHICH carbon is doing the killing?

Riverman1
84889
Points
Riverman1 07/21/11 - 05:05 am
0
0
Brad...hahaha...just getting

Brad...hahaha...just getting ready for work today. Most people ask if I work so I thought I would clear that up. LOL I'll be busy today. Hold the fort down for me, Brad. I trust your opinions.

Brad Owens
4583
Points
Brad Owens 07/21/11 - 05:35 am
0
0
So copperhead, I should be

So copperhead, I should be able to pipe my exaust from my car into your booth at the restaurant?

Brad

copperhead
1035
Points
copperhead 07/21/11 - 06:12 am
0
0
Brad, it ALREADY fills the

Brad, it ALREADY fills the air inside AND outside "my" booth.

copperhead
1035
Points
copperhead 07/21/11 - 06:25 am
0
0
Brad, can you tell us WHICH

Brad, can you tell us WHICH carbon is to blame? Is it the carbon emitted from coal-fired power plants or the carbon emitted from smokers? If you can,please tell how you differentiate between them. It would take 1 million smokers 200 years of chain-smoking to emit the same amount of carbon that a power plant emits in 10 minutes. Which is worse?

copperhead
1035
Points
copperhead 07/21/11 - 06:46 am
0
0
Well,Brad, How do you tell

Well,Brad, How do you tell the difference?

DuhJudge
206
Points
DuhJudge 07/21/11 - 07:03 am
0
0
Go ahead. Make a local

Go ahead. Make a local ordinance. Make more criminals. Make something to be challenged in court. Be even more fascist. Protecting people from themselves. Go look in a mirror you fat, pusillanimi. Maybe places like the Golden Corral should be outlawed while you are at it. What country do I live in anymore?

Taylor B
5
Points
Taylor B 07/21/11 - 07:29 am
0
0
Riverman, funny you should

Riverman, funny you should bring up Finish Line. They moved from Columbia to Richmond county when Columbia County enacted the ban.

copperhead
1035
Points
copperhead 07/21/11 - 07:39 am
0
0
Riverman,sitting at the bar

Riverman,sitting at the bar drinking probably took more years off of your life than the second-hand smoke did. We need a law to protect you from yourself! Did you drive away from that bar? If so,you posed more of a threat to the public than years of second-hand smoke. Would you rather die from second-hand smoke OR be run over by an impaired driver?

copperhead
1035
Points
copperhead 07/21/11 - 07:46 am
0
0
Riverman,you chose a bar that

Riverman,you chose a bar that you KNEW permitted smoking to do your drinking? WHY would you do such a thing?

copperhead
1035
Points
copperhead 07/21/11 - 07:52 am
0
0
Riverman,so you are against

Riverman,so you are against me smoking around you yet,you want to drink and drive around me? Very liberal of you!

Patty-P
3516
Points
Patty-P 07/21/11 - 08:40 am
0
0
Just wait til they legalize

Just wait til they legalize weed. Then you'll all be "up in smoke".

Michael Ryan
651
Points
Michael Ryan 07/21/11 - 09:18 am
0
0
That car thing is ridiculous.

That car thing is ridiculous. Cars don't kill when used as directed. No car dealer instructs you to go out and hit someone!

Bruno
780
Points
Bruno 07/21/11 - 09:26 am
0
0
We all know that smoking is

We all know that smoking is bad for you. That is not being argued. What is being argued is the rights of a business owner to allow smoking. If you follow Brad's logic then the owner of the bar should be able to allow smoking since it is HIS/HER bar. I don't smoke but I realize that if I want to go to a smoke free bar or restaurant then it is up to me to frequent those establishments. If I go to a bar and smoking is allowed, it is up to me to leave that bar. I don't expect to be able to use the bully arm of government to force others to share my views on the subject.

Chillen
17
Points
Chillen 07/21/11 - 09:59 am
0
0
I just stay away from

I just stay away from establishments that allow smoking.

If a private business decides they want to allow smoking, then they have chosen to exclude certain customers like me. Just like a private business can choose to go non-smoking and exclude certain customers who want to smoke.

No Government Regulations needed. The private market and public demand will sort out what it wants.

Why do we continue to allow the government to run our lives and our businesses? Seriously folks.

dichotomy
33490
Points
dichotomy 07/21/11 - 10:01 am
0
0
Reposted from R&R: I doubt

Reposted from R&R:

I doubt that cigarette smoke has any effect on a person walking by someone smoking a cigarette outside of a building or in a park. And by the way, do you have a fireplace in your home?

"According to research by the Washington State Department of Ecology, wood smoke is chemically active in the body 40 times longer than cigarette smoke. The lifetime cancer risk from wood smoke is 12 times greater than that from an equal volume of second hand cigarette smoke."

I don't hear a public cry to ban fireplaces or to make all homeowners to brick up their fireplaces.

Zealots tend to crusade against things they don't like but don't tell them to brick up their cozy fireplace or park their Lexus, BMW, Honda, or Mercedes, all of which are more polluting and hazardous as someone smoking a cigarette in a park. And let's shut down every industry in the area which has a smokestack because I assure you that each one is spewing more pollution into the air than all of the smokers in the same area combined. Most anti-smokers are hypocrites when you talk about taking away THEIR polluting vices or closing up their polluting employer.

I say again, if cigarettes are mass killers then outlaw them and live without the tax revenue. Then lets move on and get the fireplaces, cars, stinky perfumes, and industrial plants. Let's go folks. Dismantle your car. Brick up your fireplace. Quit your job if your employer has a smokestack. Hypocrites!

Brad Owens
4583
Points
Brad Owens 07/21/11 - 10:35 am
0
0
Smoking kills people and it

Smoking kills people and it hurts others. NO one is saying you can't smoke, and no one is saying you can't smoke in certain places. We are just sying you can't smoke in a place where YOUR smoke will harm somoene else.

You all say, if you don't like smoke, don't go to the place where people smoke.

What about the servers at the restaurants? I guess if you don't want to smoke, you should work somehwere else?

Brad

lsmith
105
Points
lsmith 07/21/11 - 10:40 am
0
0
Smokers and smoking
Unpublished

Smokers and smoking proponents always have a hundred "snappy comebacks" to support their warped positions on smoke in public places. The chronicle is right. Serving up smoky, poisoned air in a restaurant is no more legitimate than serving up spoiled food or tainted water, both of which would get them shut down in a second. But, hey....don't worry about that smoke....
This argument is as unwinnable as Dems and Reps agreeing on raising the debt ceiling. I will say however that if non smokers live long enough time will come when smoking WILL be outlawed in all public restaurants and buildings....Ga (and Richmond county in particular) will be amongst the last dumb holdouts though. Not a lot of Harvard graduates around here, Hillbilly mentality dominates........and I guess I'm one too, but I did get the message on smoke and second hand smoke loud and clear. Wish I'd have gotten it sooner though......

Riverman1
84889
Points
Riverman1 07/21/11 - 11:32 am
0
0
Actually, I don't even drink

Actually, I don't even drink anymore, not that I'm opposed to someone doing it responsibly. You can be in a bar or restaurant and not drinking alcohol...just to be factual here. Someone drinking next to me doesn't bother me in the least. Smoking on the other hand.....Taylor, yep, I knew the old place, too. Much nicer building.

mable8
2
Points
mable8 07/21/11 - 11:47 am
0
0
Government has no right to

Government has no right to determine a business owners decisions; if the owner says it's okay to smoke in his/her establishment, sobeit. Anyone who does not like smoking can select some other place to patronize. As for "polluting the outside air" what stupid reasoning. And brad--you drink alcoholic beverages, so what's your beef? I'll bet there's many a time you drove when you shouldn't have, so why don't you drop the holier than thou attitude.

stillamazed
1488
Points
stillamazed 07/21/11 - 11:58 am
0
0
The solution is simple...all

The solution is simple...all the smokers can go to establishments that allow smoking and the non smokers can go to the establishments that don't allow it. I am not an advocate for or against but I don't believe that an individual or a busines owner should be stripped of their rights either. There are plenty of establishments that do not allow smoking so non smokers have plenty of choices when it comes to entertainment and so do smokers. If non smokers decide to go to places that allow smoking then then they have no right to complain. Business owners should tell potenial employees before hand that it is a smoking environment and then let them decide whether they want to work there and be exposed. By the way, make sure the next time you spray hairspray or room freshner or riding behind any vehicle letting off exhaust fumes that you have your protective mask on. Those things can't be good for you to inhale either and stay away from all the greasy food establishments, that stuff clogs your arteries.

Cadence
219
Points
Cadence 07/21/11 - 12:39 pm
0
0
Potentially fatal when used

Potentially fatal when used as directed? Alcohol. Not only fatal to the user but to those around him, who drive on the roads, live in the home, and more. Cigarettes kill the user and the users know that but the addiction to nicotine is hard to break. Our society encourages the use of the deadly addictive substance of alcohol; in fact it is fully sanctioned by most. It should be an illegal drug in my opinion. Not the sad smokers who ruin their health and hasten their death. They don't hurt anyone but themselves. It is the rabid non-smokers who shriek that because they don't like to smoke then neither should anyone else.

You don't like the smoke in bars? Stay out of the bar.

socks99
250
Points
socks99 07/21/11 - 02:37 pm
0
0
Most of the public will miss

Most of the public will miss the real issue in the smoking debate. Let's skip the part about whether chronic smoking is bad for you; I will even allow the 'scientists' among you debate the significance of exposure to second-hand smoke; or whether or not that significance ought to influence public policy.
Let's talk about the 'good part,' then.
It is an undeniable fact that the 'Washington Consensus' and the forces of global neoliberalism desire to make smoking illegal. They'll act unilaterally to con local pols into banning the practice -- and especially banning it in the clubs, bars and restaurants were smokers like to do it. Or, they'll sneak through whopping tax increases that make it unobtainable; by the way, such a coercive regime will make smuggling and black market sales very appealing!
What we are dealing with here is NOT really the smoking issue; what we are really dealing with are the self-assured and self-confident whims of our elitist 'betters' who've repeatedly changed the rules to benefit not everyone, but themselves. What am I talking about?
The same folks who've managed to quit on their own, are the same people who have benefited the most in the latest round of global growth. They are academics; bankers; real estate agents; and others of the 'FIRE' economy who saw to it that taxes were lowered; that industrial and manufacturing jobs were shipped to the lowest cost producer; that the American middle class were used as pawns to enrich the global elite bankers, financiers, and money men. And now they want to ramrod another proposal: Prohibiting the use of tobacco. Those who refuse to see ... will 'get it' but then it will be too late to do anything about it!

Riverman1
84889
Points
Riverman1 07/21/11 - 04:35 pm
0
0
The county puts all kinds of

The county puts all kinds of regulations on bars and restaurants right now. Ordinances about this and that, plus the health department inspects them often. So it's a stretch to say limiting smoking to outside areas is infringing on their rights.

Practically speaking, it works well in Columbia County. Most bars got their patio areas up and running for the smokers. There was no outcry from smokers.

One thing I do think is going overboard is not allowing smoking in Columbia County parks. You would be hard pressed to prove a smoker outside harms anyone but himself. In that case I believe they simply invoked their own distaste for smoking.

DuhJudge
206
Points
DuhJudge 07/21/11 - 05:47 pm
0
0
Ya,ll stop eating so much

Ya,ll stop eating so much first.

scgator
1042
Points
scgator 07/21/11 - 10:56 pm
0
0
Things that hinder my

Things that hinder my health:

1-I am allergic to strong perfumes and colognes; over indulgence here leaves me physically nauseated for hours. Will you stop "bathing" in your cologne? I doubt it, YOU don't see it as a problem.
2-Loud drama and arguing in public places, not only stresses me, but also elevates my blood pressure. In fact, a couple of local restaraunts no longer have my business due to "drama" waitresses.
3-DRUNKS, you may consider yourself a social drinker, casual drinker, etc.; however, if you can't go spend a couple of hours somewhere without your favorite beverage, you are a drunk. You can hinder my health as I attempt to avoid you driving down the highway, and sometimes the sidewalk.
4-Cigarette smoking? I'm tired of all of the do-gooders hype about it's killing everybody. Sure, I agree it is not the best thing for one's health, but let;s knock on some of these OTHER doors for a while.

We could go on and on about the hazards of alcohol related health issues, if drinking was not pushed as "America's Favorite Pastime". Give me my smokers any day, most of them live to be in their 80's and 90's anyway.

Back to Top

Search Augusta jobs