Smoking ban just a gesture
Vail CO, Colorado
Smoking’s bad for you. We get it.
Eagle County and Avon passed smoking ordinances last year that mandate tickets for anyone who lights a cigarette within 25 feet of a workplace.
Months later, a state law went into effect that is less strict, pulling the limit to within 15 feet, but Eagle County and Avon kept their laws in place.
This creates a “speed trap” of sorts for smokers traveling to or through Eagle County from elsewhere in Colorado.
It’s hard to imagine how an extra 10 feet would make any difference. So why not repeal the local law?
Because that would defeat the whole purpose of the outdoor ban, which was never to protect people’s health. It wasn’t to protect nonsmokers.
The wisps of secondhand smoke that might drift through an open window are a pittance compared with the tons of nastiness pouring off our wonderful interstate night and day.
And the great thing about free will is that if you don’t like your immediate environment, you can hop in that Hummer of yours and go to a different one.
And despite one county commissioner’s professed hope that the law would be an incentive for smokers to quit, it definitely wasn’t to protect them.
The social stigma, waste of money, bad breath, smelly clothes, brown teeth, decreased stamina, hacking cough, emphysema, throat cancer, lung cancer, heart disease and prospect of an early and incredibly painful death haven’t worked, but a $100 ticket will do just the trick.
The 25-foot rule, and the mockery of free enterprise that government-imposed smoking bans are in general, protects people’s delicate sensibilities.
It is about sending a message that we live in a healthy community.
That doesn’t make it true; it just pushes the problem out of sight. Smokers will continue to smoke no matter how inconvenient it is.
And besides causing confusion through its incongruity with state law, an extra 10 feet is nothing more than an inconvenience.
But if Eagle County and Avon ceded their power over smokers to the state, then those anti-smoking crusaders who fought so hard for their cause locally would feel like it was all for nothing.
What the stiffer outdoor smoking ban is really protecting are its own architects’ fragile egos.
” Evan Gibbard for the Editorial Board
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