Is smoking law necessary?

I have attended prior meetings concerning the proposed smoking ordinance, and as the final vote is scheduled for today, I have several questions.

Who brought this smoking ordinance to the Augusta Commission in the first place? Was it a local concerned citizen who wrote a simple letter or stood up before the commission and asked that it be drafted? Could it have been lobbyists who get paid to travel from city to city in groups to skewer our government?

Is this smoking ordinance necessary? We get it – smoking, among other things, is bad for you. But nobody is forcing a nonsmoker to be around it. There is no law on the books that mandates establishments to allow smoking, and there is no law requiring a nonsmoker to frequent an establishment that does. That falls under “free market.”

Let citizens decide if they want to frequent a smoking or nonsmoking establishment. We’re all big boys and girls. Just because one kid doesn’t eat cookies doesn’t mean the whole class has to go without, even if cookies make us fat.

When will we think government intrusion on private citizens has gone too far? I’ve heard from smokers and nonsmokers that this proposed ordinance is stepping on the rights of personal property owners, and all are wondering what will be next on the list. Beef, pork, salt or ice cream? Is the government going to eliminate nuts and milk because some are allergic or intolerant? Are they going to ban cars so you have to walk everywhere because you don’t get enough exercise on your own and might collapse and kill someone when you have that heart attack? When will enough be enough?

The financial impact from this proposed smoking ordinance will not be good. Even the lawyer for Augusta raised the question of losing revenue from private rentals to surrounding counties if smoking was banned on all county-owned property. The Augusta Commission quickly approved to amend that portion of the ordinance. So why wouldn’t commissioners think that the ordinance wouldn’t affect privately owned establishments and ultimately the county’s bottom line?

Don’t city departments have better things to do than smoke-patrol? It sounds like a lot of hassle to intrude on personal property rights when the solution is simple. Let the free market decide.

Amy Lewis

Augusta

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