Go blow smoke - away from the rest of us

Pennsylvania's no-smoking ban is such a wuss of a law. It's supposed to prohibit people from lighting up in most public buildings and businesses. But loopholes to the five-month-old law abound.

Now, reports the Allentown Morning Call, the state Health Department's Division of Tobacco Prevention and Control is doing a legal review of the ban, after attorneys for about a dozen Pennsylvania hotels called to challenge it.

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The department ought to tell those lawyers to go blow smoke.

Second-hand smoke  poisons anyone unlucky enough to inhale it. A smoker's legal right to puff doesn't trump the basic right the rest of us have to breathe smoke-free air without increasing our risk for cancer, heart disease and respiratory miseries.  

According to a new poll by the Pennsylvania Medical Society's Institute for Good Medicine, it looks like most Pennsylvanian's agree with that assessment - at least when it comes to dining out.

Nearly 89 percent of participants in the society's annual Patient Poll "indicated a more favorable or the same level of enjoyability while dining out now that the smoking ban is in place," according to the institute's announcement of the poll results.

"Interestingly," it continues, "a January 2007 Patient Poll by the Institute for Good Medicine suggested that 70 percent of Pennsylvania adults prefer smoke-free environments when dining out.

" 'Seeing is believing … or in this case, breathing is believing,' said Peter S. Lund, MD, founder of the Institute for Good Medicine at the Pennsylvania Medical Society. 'Dining out in a smoke-free environment has earned its place with many more Pennsylvania adults in a relatively short period of time.'"

Meantime, a new report from the Centers for Disease Control credits a smoking ban in Pueblo, Colorado for a startling reduction in heart attacks among residents of that city.

Pueblo's ban was initiated in 2003, so enough time has passed to collect stats and analyze data. The numbers show that Pueblo's tickers are doing much better, now that second-hand smoke isn't a first-hand problem.

So, again, here's hoping the state health department sends up this smoke signal to those meddlesome lawyers and the greedy hoteliers they represent: Keep the ban.

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