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Published: Saturday, 3/24/2007

Lenawee on leading edge

THE smoking ban recently authorized in Lenawee County should provide even further impetus for a statewide smoking ban in Michigan. After the county voted 2-to-1 for greater smoking regulation last November, county commissioners responded.

So starting June 12 smoking will be banned in public buildings and workplaces in Lenawee County. The ban does not include restaurants and bars, but it's a start.

Ohioans tired of gagging on secondhand smoke in sparsely ventilated, enclosed public settings, overwhelmingly voted for a statewide ban last election. It does cover bars, restaurants, bowling alleys, and nearly all other indoor public places that have employees or are open to the public.

While the Ohio Department of Health drafts operating rules to enforce the ban, citizens clearly are enjoying the benefits of smoke-free environments like never before.

When Lenawee County residents experience a breath of fresh air in some previously smoky settings, no doubt they'll also want to breathe easier in places they eat and socially congregate.

For now, county commissioners have authorized the county board of health to regulate smoking in public facilities and businesses with two or more employees. Smoking will also be prohibited near business and workplace entrances and in company cars used by two or more people.

Curiously, some commissioners seemed almost apologetic about imposing even a partial smoking ban in the county - perhaps to appease smoking constituents. Yet they acknowledged majority rule in what some allowed was not an easy decision.

The commissioners were compelled to do something.

"We felt that in light of the vote, the people of Lenawee County were looking for some sort of protection," said panel chairman Jim Van Doren. They should have no regrets about taking the first step toward instituting healthier conditions for their community.

Certainly there is no excuse not to in a county where smoking-related illness is the leading cause of "preventable death" and, according to Michigan Department of Community Health Vital Statistics, smoking-related health costs consumed more than $27 million in 2002 alone.



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