Smoking ban – a good idea after all

It has been a year since the smoking ban for restaurants has been imposed in Florida. Since the then-controversial ban, which came into effect on June 1, 2003, the public seems to have widely accepted the ban as a positive change.

Before the ban passed, critics, including The Oracle, argued that such a ban infringed on the right for customers to chose whether they wanted to smoke or not and that the bill could spell economic doom for some establishments. A year later, negative economic impacts are hard to prove as bars and restaurants are just as crowded as they were before.

More and more states enforce similar smoking bans – Massachusetts did so Tuesday – the same arguments have been brought forth there as well.

The Boston Globe recounts Ilir Lazaj, a man they say “was forced to drink his morning cup of coffee huddled under a drippy awning in a rain storm to satisfy his craving for a Marlboro Light,” as complaining that “I don’t like having to come outside. I like to sit down to have my coffee, not stand in the rain or the sun. If smoking is so bad, stop it like illegal drugs.”

Such comments are reminiscent of the outcry heard in the first couple of weeks the ban became enforced in Florida. Yet, in our state at least, the criticism soon died down and now is seldom heard.

It also raises the point that smoking remains one of the leading causes of cancer. According to the National Cancer Institute, “Tobacco use, particularly cigarette smoking, is the single most preventable cause of death in the United States. Cigarette smoking alone is directly responsible for approximately 30 percent of all cancer deaths annually in the United States.”

Quitting smoking takes effort because, no matter what tobacco firms claim, tobacco is an addictive substance. Imposing bans gives smokers yet another plausible reason to quit and may very well improve former smokers’ health, if not save their lives.