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WBEN Commentary & Opinion

Thoughts from WBEN/WGR/WWKB Operations Manager Tim Wenger
Find Tim on Twitter at http://twitter.com/timWBEN

OPINION: Smoking Ban Works

Ten years after the ban on indoor smoking in New York State, it's interesting to look back at how the law has settled-in and how other annoyances have taken over.  If you need a reminder of what life was like then, just stop in at a casino and it should all come back to you quickly!  Remember those days of hanging your clothes to air them out from the smoke inside many institutions?

Ten years ago, those of us non-smokers would grudgingly sit in a restaurant and take in the tobacco odor and smoke from the smoker at the table next to us.  Now, we're 'smoke-free' but need to listen to them on their cell phone talking to their spouse, boss or babysitter.  That's almost as bad, but at least it's not a health issue.  And no, we don;t need a law for that either! 
Ten years later, was the decision to ban indoor smoking a good one?
( 76% )
( 24% )

At the time the smoking law was being debated and implemented, many a business owner and restaurant operator was arguing their business would suffer.   And initially it probably did.  But those short term losses seem to have given way to long term benefits.   With fewer and fewer people smoking these days, it seems to be in the best interests of a business to be smoke-free and force those who want to smoke to find a suitable spot to do so.

I'm not a big proponent of having government legislate what makes good sense.  But this time it seems like the ban has simply followed the social wave toward less smoking.  With more non-smokers out there, it makes sense for businesses to cater to them.  And it's also a law that's relatively easy to enforce.  Then, there is that health benefit to consider too.

So many would now argue that if the smoking ban was a good law, why not keep passing laws that legislate our lifestyles?  Should we ban smoking in your car?  In your house?  What about those sugary sodas and fatty foods?   I think not.  When it comes to legislating common sense, it's probably a time to draw the line.  The smoking law was a success in its implementation because it eradicated unhealthy and unpleasant exposure to smoke for the non-smoker.  

We have enough laws on the books.  It would just be nice if some of them worked as well as the smoking ban has.  Wouldn't it be nice to read one less headline about someone killed in an accident caused by distracted driving while texting or drinking and driving?

It's commonplace that we live in a largely smoke-free society in 2013.  We can only hope it will be just as common to see such broad compliance with the multitude of other laws we already have in place.

The old saying goes "there ought to be a law".  I say, just enforce the ones we have.  And the smoking ban has been a good one and stood the test of a decade.


07/22/2013 1:35PM
No Smoking Indoors: Ten Years Later
Are you happy with the smoking ban?
07/23/2013 11:56AM
Surprised you're not pro-smoking
or pro-Big Tobacco. It would be consistent with your other positions.
07/23/2013 12:07PM
Double talk
So now its time to draw the line? Forget it. Once you let the Genie out, its out. You are either for legislating behavior or your not, there is no middle ground. I cant wait until they start taxing sugary drinks and Tim Hortons.
07/23/2013 4:21PM
It's not government's place,
It's not government's place, nor the place of citizenry to determine what a business owner can or cannot do in his establishment. If the business owner chooses to permit smoking, he should be permitted to do so. His staff and his customers know to enter at their own risk, and to accept the risk if the value is worth it. Non-smokers have no specific rights to any particular restaurant, nor to any particular food item. While I agree with banning smoking in certain enclosed "public" locations (malls, supermarkets, etc.), I believe a restaurant does not qualify as such. Bowling centers, casinos and the like can establish non-smoking and smoking areas if it is economically advantageous to do so. For the record, I am a former smoker (35 years smoking, 8 without) who will not walk into a room and ask those already in attendance to put out their cigarettes so I will not be inconvenienced. Nor would I light up without checking my surroundings and asking others. Too bad some others wouldn't have the same courtesy in either scenario.
07/23/2013 4:46PM
Faithful, obedient WBEN listeners are pro-smoking, pro-big tobacco. It's how they roll.
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