ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Other View: In N.D., debate over smoking gets tiresome

By The Forum, of Fargo, N.D. There is no debate that smoking and secondhand smoke kill and sicken people. Nearly 40 years of good science has put that issue to rest. In North Dakota, however, there is debate about a business's freedom to kill and...

By The Forum, of Fargo, N.D.

There is no debate that smoking and secondhand smoke kill and sicken people. Nearly 40 years of good science has put that issue to rest. In North Dakota, however, there is debate about a business's freedom to kill and sicken its patrons and employees. Once again, that incredibly obtuse discussion is making news at the Legislature.

Last week's committee hearing on a bill to ban smoking in all hotel rooms and bars had the feel of a time warp. It was a bizarre demonstration of both ignorance and intransigence. It was a stage for slow learners to spew their nonsense about "freedom" and the hazards of french fries. It would have been a real laugh riot, but for the pain and suffering such thinking has delivered on hundreds of thousands of people.

One rural tavern owner said, "The bottom line is freedom. It's my tavern. I should decide who smokes there."

Well, maybe it is about freedom: the tavern owner's freedom to poison the air his patrons and employees breathe; the freedom to operate a place where toxins sicken and kill people; the freedom to make a buck no matter the consequences to others.

ADVERTISEMENT

But for real stupidity, it's the french fry argument. A representative of a fraternal club said if people are worried about carcinogens or other health hazards, they shouldn't eat french fries, either. That might be true, but there is no such thing as a secondhand french fry. Fries do not float in the air at the local fast-food restaurant and drift into customers' mouths. No one we know holds down a restaurant patron and stuffs fries down his/her throat.

The arguments against a comprehensive statewide smoking and secondhand smoke ban were bogus a few years ago. Now, as most major cities in the state have gone smoke-free and the science of smoke is unambiguous the rants from smoking advocates are just plan silly. Pathetic, even.

Even more pathetic, however, is the willingness of legislators to buy into the freedom scam and french fry nonsense. They have to know better. They have to know that by their inaction they are tacitly approving activity that kills and sickens their constituents. Still, they have been unable to summon the courage to put the long-term health of all North Dakotans ahead of the profits of a handful of bars and clubs.

The Forum, like The Daily Republic, is owned by Forum Communications Co.

What To Read Next
"If we show we are complacent with areas like this that clearly need addressing, we’re not improving as a city,” Mitchell Republic Editor Luke Hagen said during the city council meeting discussion.
Discussion will take place during the 6 p.m. meeting on Monday at City Hall
Lawmakers have said it is likely only one is affordable at this time without cutting programs or adding other taxes or revenue streams
Members Only
Although Mitchell's rates would be increase, the proposed equitable rate structure could lessen the increased costs for residential customers' water and sewer bills.