Monday, October 10, 2005

The Columbian blows it: Our View: 'Yes' on Initiative 901

Few people have a better reason to be opposed to smoking. It killed my parents and stepparent. My mother had a radical mastectomy (Removal of a breast) due to cancer. Yet, I am completely against this initiative.

Anyone ever having read the Columbian would know they’d be in favor of this effort to ban smoking indoors in most public places (Except tribal venues, who will reap a huge benefit from this idiotic law). They frequently have believed they have a duty to save us from ourselves, that their perspective and intelligence far exceeds that of our own.

It doesn’t, of course. As a matter of fact, the Columbian’s falling circulation combined with the refutation of most of their editorial stances and endorsements shows the exact opposite. This editorial, however, goes along with the mindset of most people… most unthinking people… who will pass this initiative.

I will address their statements individually, hopefully so those reading might see the error of the Columbian’s ways and vote no on I-901.

In Our View: 'Yes' on Initiative 901
Monday, October 10, 2005

Columbian editorial writers

Forget for a moment the flaming passions surrounding Initiative 901, the Nov. 8 ballot measure that would ban public indoor smoking. Focus instead on these objective facts, and it will become obvious that Initiative 901 is a common-sense public-health initiative that warrants slam-dunk approval:

More than 225,000 workers in Washington state are subjected to secondhand smoke.

More than 225,000 workers in Washington State DO NOT HAVE TO WORK IN A SECONDHAND SMOKE ENVIRONMENT.


What are these people going to do as a result of losing their jobs? We won’t have to worry about 225,000 people somehow… apparently forced to work in these unhealthy environments… somehow unable to find ANY OTHER JOB… what’s going to happen when thousands of theose jobs disappear when hundreds of places are forced to close down due to smoker migration to tribal facilities or, here locally, for example, drive across the river?

Will the taxpayers of this state be forced to foot the huge bill for the massive retraining program that will inevitably occur as a result of the passage of this initiative?

More than four dozen cancer-causing agents are found in secondhand smoke, including arsenic, formaldehyde and cyanide. Secondhand smoke causes asthma, bronchitis, pneumonia, lung cancer, and heart disease and kills 38,000 people annually in America.

And not ONE person is REQUIRED to inhale ANY of them.

God, it sickens me that these clowns believe we can’t think for ourselves.

Don’t like cigarette smoke? Then don’t work or patronize businesses that might expose you to it. How hard can that be?

Going smokeless makes good business sense. More sick days by employees means less productivity and lost money for the employer. Thus, it's easy to see why 80 percent of Clark County restaurants are now smoke-free, up from 69 percent two years ago.


Clearly, there is a trend developing. Is there some particular reason we can’t let it run it’s course? If it’s so “easy to see,” then why don’t we just let it continue on it’s own without Big Brother regulating this conduct?

Washington state likes to pride itself in showing the way. For example, we're the first state to mandate "green" policies in constructing new public-agency buildings. On the smoking-ban issue, though, we have some catching up to do. Nine states already ban public indoor smoking. More than 1,000 towns and cities have enacted such bans. Several entire countries including Ireland, Italy, India, Norway and Sweden have banned public indoor smoking.

This, of course, isn’t a reason to do anything.

If whoever wrote this trash feels that Italy, India, Norway and Sweden represent some sort of utopia… then feel free to leave to these areas where governments have no problem thinking for you and regulating your conduct to such an extreme.

And here's the cold, hard fact that I-901 opponents don't want to discuss: If the measure passes, smokers would remain perfectly free to puff themselves to death at any time, as often as they like, as long as it's not indoors in public. Their right is not being taken away, and even if it's being infringed upon, public health supercedes smokers' rights.

Swell. I’ll discuss it.

You want Big Brother government to interfere with the choices I make as a business owner, regulating conduct that is NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS… NOR GOVERNMENT’S, EITHER.

Your observation that “public health supercedes smokers' rights," is positively frightening.

Where do you draw the line?

We have seat belt laws and now interference with business laws… all using the same, bizarre line of reasoning.

What’s the next law going to be? Are we going to end the legal consumption of alcohol? Easy to use that bizarre, same type of “reasoning” for an excuse, as tens of thousands die directly or indirectly from using alcohol. Are we going to lower the legal limit to .00 for drivers? Are we going to cite the same type of evidence as a justification for ending the use of alcohol all together?

I mean, after all, the reasoning to eliminate alcohol is EXACTLY the same. How long will it be before that “reasoning” provides the impetus for yet ANOTHER "save us from ourselves" law?

And what about the obesity epidemic? How long until we force all fast food restaurants to close? Put fat limits on restaurant meals? Eliminate the sales of junk foods?


There. Satisfied?

Some may argue that Washington state already has its 1985 Clean Air Act, which bans smoking in most public places. That's true, but exempted are restaurants, bars, skating rinks, bingo halls and bowling alleys. In those places, the health of employees and the rest of the public is at risk.

NO ONE IS AT RISK UNLESS THEY WANT TO BE. MY health isn’t at risk in those places, because I don’t GO to those places. At the end of the day, I repeat: no one forces ANYONE to work in such an environment and no one certainly requires anyone to patronize such an establishment. This initiative will cost thousands of jobs and millions of dollars. Of course, it won’t cost the Columbian a dime, so that makes this an easy position to take.

As I-901 opponents present their flimsy arguments,

And yours aren’t?

they should answer this question: When the American Cancer Society, the American Lung Association of Washington and the American Heart Association are trying to tell the public something, don't you think we ought to listen?

As soon as these organizations are given the power to control my life. As soon as these organizations stand to lose thousands of jobs and millions of dollars as a result of this law. And as soon as these organizations admit they’re being financed by smoking cessation pharmaceutical companies.

When those things happen… then I’ll listen.

When nonpolitical groups such as those and others including AARP Washington, Washington State PTA, Washington State Hospital Association, Washington State Medical Association and many other nursing, dental, firefighters and labor groups support a public-health measure, don't you think we ought to agree?

It all depends. Those of us who can actually think for ourselves instead of having others do their thinking for us might have a different view.

We do, and that's why The Columbian enthusiastically supports Initiative 901. Yes, we have not been overly fond of initiatives as a general rule. We believe a better way is for elected officials to enact necessary laws; that's why we elected them. But when legislators lack the courage to act, as has been the case on a public indoor smoking ban, then an initiative becomes necessary.

Oh. So you people DO support I-912?


Protect public health by authorizing a long-overdue ban on public indoor smoking. Vote "Yes" on Initiative 901.

Nope. I’m a firm “no.” I see the slope… and it’s very slippery, indeed.

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