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Published: Sunday, 8/24/2003

Smoking ban: It's about life and death

I had to laugh when I read that the group trying to override the smoking ban was establishing a political action group called Citizens for Common Sense.

It seems to me that common sense would tell one not to smoke. That 1,500 people die each day from smoking. That our health care costs continue to rise because of illnesses brought on by smoking. That any other product on the market that brought on such devastating consequences would have been banned by the FDA years ago.

It is about profits and because the tobacco lobby throws so much money into the political system that they are allowed to continue selling a life-threatening product.

I didn't always feel this way about smoking. I used to even spend part of my lunch break outside so my good friend could smoke. But when she developed lung cancer and then died at the age of 47, my opinion changed.

Although I felt a terrible loss with her death, it was nothing compared with that of her husband and her three children, ages 13, 9, and 7. They still suffer her loss on a daily basis. Her son asked if she would still be alive if he had been able to get her to quit smoking sooner.

It's not just the smoker who is affected, it is the whole family. Smoking kills and it's not always someone else. Sometimes it hits close to home.

Please show this to your loved ones and beg them to stop smoking. I am making this plea for my friend. She would have given anything to have quit smoking 20 years earlier, but she no longer has the chance.

It's really not about smoking in bars and restaurants, but rather a decision about life or death. They call that common sense.

MOLLY LONG

Castlewood Drive

My family and I just returned from a week long trip in California. We went to several restaurants and they have a smoking ban in all bars and restaurants. Let me tell you that every place we went it was crowded, and most of them had a waiting list for a table.

If a smoking ban is so bad, why are all the restaurants and bars full out in California? Could it be that they think enjoying a meal or a drink out for a while is more important than smoking nonstop? Funny how they can enjoy a meal without smoking for an hour and Toledo smokers can't.

I enjoyed my meals so much out in California. Not having to smell the smoke and not having my clothes smell like smoke when I left was so refreshing.

I will go to the nonsmoking establishments and so will a lot of other people, so bar and restaurant owners need to think about how much business they are losing by not being nonsmoking.

DANA GARVIN

Parkwood Avenue

Well, Toledo, it's a start. I, for one, will come out of my smoke-free environment and enjoy the “true” smoke-free environments in Toledo, the ones without the smoking lounges. They can count on my revenue.

I must admit I was sad to read in the paper that there will not be random inspections. I hope that people will be respectful to one another and just abide by the new law and move on. There's far more important things that we should be fighting for now that we can breathe cleaner air.

Maybe everyone who will be enjoying this new freedom should meet at Arnie Elzey's for a drink (or two) to discuss how we could get Lucas County or better yet the state of Ohio to follow suit.

LISA McAFEE

Temperance

According to Toledo's chief counsel, John Madigan, there will be “an army that includes more than 700 police officers and 500 firefighters empowered to issue citations for illegally smoking in bars and restaurants.”

I feel safer already. At least, I now know where to find Toledo's Finest if I should ever need them.

What the heck, I am going to arm myself with the new snitch (oops, I mean phone) number as a good citizen should, so I, too, can report illegal smokers.

DONNA SCHOEDEL

Bancroft Street

This is in response to the man who expressed his grief over an East Side diner that went out of business because of the smoking ban.

How could a business closing be related to something that hadn't happened yet? Or have our local businesses been so influenced by George W. Bush's neo-conservative brainlessness that they figured they'd enact a little “pre-emptive” closing before the evidence is in or the results are known?

Also, in response to the gentleman's question: No, I haven't noticed that restaurants like Cafe Marie are moving to Oregon instead of East Toledo, and if they are, I doubt a smoking ban has anything to do with it.

I just can't picture Cafe Marie - whose clientele more represents the Sunday school crowd rather than the smoking East Side bar brawlers - sitting on the East Side next to an abandoned building anyway.

I am against any law enacted by only 11 people, but I figure if a critical mass of citizens are truly upset with having to relocate their bar stool, then they would have signed Arnie Elzey's petition.

The lack of support for the petition seems to suggest that his cash register won't suffer the same fate.

DAVID FRIEDMAN

Country Creek Lane

As long as tobacco remains a legal substance, people should have the right to smoke it in establishments where the general public is not required to be present and where the property owner chooses to allow it.

Toledo City Council should revise the smoking ordinance to at least exempt bars from its provisions. It should then require those businesses to post bold-lettered signs that read: “Warning: Smoking Allowed. Smoking and Second-Hand Smoke are Hazardous to your Health. Enter at Your Own Risk.”

Nonsmokers could then simply choose not to enter or work in such places. Nonsmokers who have to enter (delivery drivers, health inspectors, etc.) could be provided with gas masks paid for by a special assessment on the smoking businesses.

These measures could achieve the goal of reducing the harmful effects of smoking while still preserving the rights of smokers and private property owners.

ROBERT A. KELSO

Sylvania

If the city expects, say, a 120-pound barmaid or waitress to go up to a 200- or 300- pound belligerent drunk man and demand he put his cigarette out, maybe the city should train and pay them as law enforcement officers.

Also since a good majority of employees in these businesses are female, especially in the neighborhood bars, are they expected to follow this same belligerent drunk to the bathroom to make sure he doesn't light up?

Sounds to me like the city should be footing the bill for hazard pay, too.

While the city might have its heart in the right place, expecting the employees to be the enforcers is just wrong.

These people do not make the wages to take the risks that the city is trying to make them take.

SHARIE PLEWA

Temperance

Apparently your letter writer does not know that Cafe Marie has had a no-smoking policy for some time and continues to expand its business.

JIM KONWINSKI

Sylvania



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