Our View

Sep 302003
Authors: J.J. Babb Colleen Buhrer Shandra Jordan

What it comes down to is this: if your actions hurt another

person, the government is going to be more likely to regulate that


For example, you can drink yourself stupid, but when you climb

in a car the government is going to take action because what you

are about to do will directly harm another person, when your car

smashes into their car.

Similarly, as of today, you can smoke yourself into an early

grave in the privacy of your own home, but you can no longer do it

in a bar, restaurant or other public place. This is not because the

government is trying to oppress you or create an overly regulated

society, but because when you smoke in a bar, you are impacting the

health of hundreds of people.

Even if they don’t keel over that evening (and some of them may

if they happen to have asthma, as 14.6 million people do, according

to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease), you

are impacting their future lung health, contributing to lung cancer

20 years down the road and causing infections and lung disease in

unborn children.

Smokers say they have the right to go out and eat in a bar.

True, but we also have the right to not risk our own health to go

to the same bar. Pregnant women are not able to go out to bar with

smoke in it because it can seriously harm their unborn children. So

your smoking is keeping them from being able to eat out. And for

the three or four weeks before a new mother realizes she is

pregnant, she can do irreparable damage to a fetus without even

knowing it.

As a smoker, you can go out to eat, step outside for the five

minutes it takes to smoke a cigarette and step back in. When

non-smokers wish to save their lungs from second-hand smoke, they

can’t just step outside because they can’t ever go inside.

Not smoking is not harming anyone, it is just a minor


While it might not be an ideal solution (to smokers), your right

to smoke and our right not to breathe your smoke have to be

evaluated. The right to continue to breath comes out on top.

Further, it isn’t like the Fort Collins City Council dropped

this ordinance on us out of the blue. Over several months the City

Council heard arguments for and against the ordinance at meetings,

opened e-mail accounts and phone lines for feedback and, by all

evidence, made an informed decision that reflects what the citizens

of Fort Collins want.

A study conducted by the Larimer County Department of Heath and

Environment and other groups found that 75 percent of people agree

that the “city government has a responsibility to protect the

public’s health.” Another 91 percent agree that second-hand smoke

harms adult’s health.

While the percentage drops slightly to 59 percent in favor of a

standard forbidding smoking in all public places, that is still a

majority of citizens in favor of a smoking ordinance.





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