No smoking…outdoors?

Published 9:18 am Thursday, January 20, 2011

No smoking signs are more prevalent today than ever before, especially considering the fact that many states have banned that habit from being enjoyed in public settings.

While smokers have grown accustomed to bans at most every restaurant, nightclub, hotel/motel, etc., they may be alarmed to discover that at least one North Carolina city is considering a prohibition on “lighting up” outdoors.

City of Raleigh officials are debating on whether or not to impose a smoking ban within city-owned parks or greenways. The last time we looked, parks and greenways are located outdoors, where fresh air is abundant enough to absorb and dilute thousands of smokers, even if they lit up all at once.

Government intervention into the rights of legal-age smokers to enjoy “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” is unwelcomed in this particular case. The same can be said for the State of North Carolina’s decision in 2009 to prohibit smoking in privately-owned restaurants and bars. That decision should have been left with the owners…if they so chose to allow smoking and if a patron found cigar, cigarette or pipe smoke offensive or a threat to their health, then feel free to visit an establishment which opted to ban smoking. Freedom of choice…that’s the American way!

We completely understand the health risks associated with the use of tobacco products and we do not encourage people to smoke. But we are staunch supporters of individual rights, as guaranteed by our nation’s and state’s constitutions.

The courtesy rule comes into play where smokers are allowed to enjoy their legal habit. If surrounded by non-smokers, simply remove oneself to an isolated area where second-hand smoke will not affect others.

It’s really a simple decision to make, but then again, we are talking about government officials. So often it seems they drop-off their common sense at the door before entering a meeting.

– The Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald