Smoking gets stomped out

An article in the St. Petersburg Times Tuesday announced that an amendment to ban smoking in work places might pass. For those with allergies and other health concerns, this is welcome news. For those addicted to cigarettes and other forms of smoking tobacco, it could mean the start of more evenings spent at home. Either way, it is a step forward for Florida.

Most opponents of the smoking ban cling to the belief that it is a way to smother people’s individual freedoms. This is a lame excuse concocted by addicts of the world’s most legal drug — followed closely by caffeine. The ban has to do more with public health and the betterment of society than some devious plot by the American Medical Association to take away Americans’ freedoms.

People choose for themselves if they want to smoke. But the four-year-old girl sitting near a smoker in a restaurant, did not make that choice. Second-hand smoke has become more prevalent as a cause of health problems, such as asthma, in children. To subject unsuspecting people to smoke just because of an uncontrollable addiction is unforgivable.

While restaurant and bar owners are worried about the impact on their businesses, the outcome could be very good. Other states with smoking bans in place are Maine, Vermont and California. And some cities, such as New York and Los Angeles, have managed to weather the non- smoking backlash quite well.

So, what retaliation do smokers have? They can make sure they vote “No” on November 5. However, a poll recently conducted by the St. Petersburg Times and the Miami Herald revealed that, of 800 voters surveyed, 60 percent said they would vote “Yes” for such an amendment.

Florida’s smokers have fought a ban like this for years. It has been defeated on previous ballots. But this November might be the turning point for non-smokers. Finally, freedom from a hazy and smelly work environment.