Secondhand smoke in the workplace is a serious health issue that affects everyone. The proposed Columbia County Smoke-free Act will provide smoke-free protection for everyone in public places.
The proposed act does not violate anyone's civil rights, nor does it discriminate against anyone. The act will regulate behavior, not people.
This act does not prohibit smoking - it just says "smoking is not permitted inside public places where the health of others may be at risk." This is similar to drinking-and-driving laws, which do not prohibit drinking, but regulate behaviors that pose a threat or danger to others.
People would not use a half-chlorinated swimming pool or eat in a restaurant that received a low score from the local health department. Why should anyone be exposed to secondhand smoke, which contains more than 4,000 chemicals - of which 40 are known to cause cancer and over 200 are poisonous?
Smoke-free laws have proven to be a win-win situation for all. Health has improved; revenue has increased in areas where smoke-free laws are implemented. More people can visit businesses that they could not and/or would not because of health risks. Restaurant tables will turn over faster; therefore, revenue increases.
Exposure to secondhand smoke is a serious health issue. It is the responsibility of public health officials and the government to protect the health of its citizens.
(Editor's note: The writer, a registered respiratory therapist, is the chairman of the Richmond/Columbia Counties' Tobacco Use Prevention Coalition.)