Smoking bans on the march
California, the entire state, has snuffed indoor smoke in all public places. Next door to Eagle County, Summit County has banned smoking in all bars and restaurants. Individually, cities and towns from Aspen to Wheat Ridge have enacted bans, largely in response to public demand (the public, in this case, defined as non-smokers; smokers remain the much-maligned minority). The Web site for the Colorado Group to Alleviate Smoking Pollution (GASP) lists more than 35 cities, towns and counties in the state that have some form of indoor smoking ban – the result of a variety of local laws enacted over the past few decades to address the unavoidable fact that secondhand smoke is a problem, a carcinogen, a public menace. Why, then, do we need a statewide ban?Given the record of success noted above, we don’t. On the other hand, if we get one, as California will attest, we’ll live through it (and probably live longer). Our economy won’t go down the drain, smokers won’t riot in the streets, and lots of people who come to visit here will cheer the absence of smoke in their favorite bars and restaurants.State Rep. Gary Lindstrom, who represents Eagle County, is bullish on smoking bans but as he predicted the new version of the bill would go up in smoke, as it did Monday. It doesn’t matter: Lindstrom is on the winning side of a cultural battle that while still playing out, will likely see the extermination of all indoor smoking everywhere in the United States in the coming decades. It’s only a matter of time before Colorado has its statewide ban, and even die-hard (or is it “die-young”?) smokers will resign themselves to their homes, cars and alleys.Even so, the notion of local rule and decision making is an appealing one, regardless of the issue. Do we really need Denver dictating the smoking rules of all the state’s bars and restaurants when it’s already been proven that local governments are doing quite well on their own? More preferable is the local, organic march of resolutions that arrive when the individual community is ready for it.Vail, Colorado
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