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New smoking law is a good start, for now

After more than a year of false starts, public hearings and debate, the county commissioners made a step in the right direction to protect people from secondhand smoke.

It’s great news that smoking will be prohibited at concerts, fairs and parades across the county, but Grant County needs to take leaps, not steps, toward improving its ranking of second-worst in Indiana for smoking.

Nearly one-third of our community smokes, according to Marion General Hospital reports, and deciding not to take a tough stance against smoking will just expose more of our population to the deadly habit.

The commissioners removed language from the ordinance that would have prohibited smoking at festivals, which is good news for smokers but bad news from Grant County families.

Citizens in our county deserve the right to attend public events without exposing themselves or their children to carcinogenic smoke.

In fact, placing limits on smoking at festivals could increase attendance. Smokers would still be able to light up in their cars or walk off the premises to take a smoke break, and families wouldn’t have to worry about dodging clouds of toxins while enjoying the company of their friends and neighbors.

Under the new ordinance, private club owners will be able to decide whether to allow smoking in their establishment, but many counties in Indiana take a stronger stance, for good reason.

It’s often argued that banning smoking in all restaurants and bars will hurt the owner’s pockets, but U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports show that smoke-free policies do not harm the hospitality industry.

The city of Pueblo, Colorado experienced a more than 20 percent increase in combined bar and restaurant sales tax revenues from the pre- to post-ordinance period, according to federal reports, after it passed an ordinance in 2003.

When Lexington-Fayette County in Kentucky imposed its smoking ban, the ordinance was positively associated with employment, meaning business owners had more candidates to choose from and people of the county had more employment options.

Kentucky also found that “no relationship was observed between the law and business openings or closings in either alcohol-serving or nonalcohol-serving businesses,” according to CDC reports.

Even though more could have been done to provide access to smoke-free facilities, the commissioner did the right thing by placing the same restrictions on e-cigarette use as traditional tobacco.

Recent news shows that the steam released by vapes is not as healthy as the companies would like us to think.

At the end of the day, we need to set an example that smoking is harmful. The minority of people who choose to risk their lives should not be allowed to impose their bad habits upon the majority of Grant County citizens who are protecting their health and children’s health.

The commissioners did a great job by taking a step in the right direction. Now it is time for Grant County to call for even more protection.