marlboro smoking lady

What do you think about smoking ban?

Published on October 16th, 2007 17:10

As the October 1 ban on smoking in restaurants nears local folks are mostly ready to accept the legislation as a way of life.

While some smokers are opposed to the legislation they realize that it has been a long time in coming and will tolerate it.

According to recent legislation, all restaurants will be required to be smoke free indoors unless they limit access to people 21+ at all times (including restaurants and bars, chain and hotel restaurants). Tennessee is one of the handfuls of states that have not broadened the ban to bars. Basically, the ban on smoking applies to those establishments where children may be present, and in all public places.

Tennessee Governor Phil Bredesen said he proposed the ban because he felt the time was appropriate. The harmful effects of smoking were well documented, he said, and tobacco’s declining clout in the state made it possible then.

“It’s something you couldn’t have done in Tennessee a decade ago.

Mr. Bredesen said. “I think people are ready for it. Everything is not seen through the prism of being a tobacco state.”

Not everyone, however, is thrilled. Paul McKinney, who grows only a small amount of tobacco on his mid-state farm, compared the proposal to forbidding alcohol and unhealthy foods.

“I can see raising the tax and getting more money,” Mr. McKinney said, “but if you’re planning on just banning tobacco altogether, you’re killing the goose that’s laying the golden egg.”

Tennessee’s dependence on tobacco has made the state one of the most hostile in the nation to tobacco regulation. As antismoking laws spread, Tennessee has given free rein to smokers. The only restriction aside from a few local regulations is a year-old ban on smoking in state buildings.

Danny Hooten of Camden, a non-smoker, said he is in favor of it (the ban) while also agreeing that people have a right to smoke but it (smoke) should not infringe on his right not to breathe it.

Larry Kirk, also of Camden, echoed Hooten’s comments. “I can see both sides (of the issue),” he said. “I just don’t like to be around it (smoke) when I am eating. Kirk smoked for about 20 years and totally quit about two months ago. He said that health wise we would all be better not to smoke.

While he accepts the ban, Walter Wilson of Camden said “It will get to the point where you will have to put your head in a stump (to smoke). Wilson said he used to smoke five packs a day.

Milford (Cleo) Todd of Camden said he smoked for about 50 years before learning from a doctor’s visit that cigarette smoke has scarred his lungs. He quit that day. “I had about three cigarettes left in my car and I crumbled them all up and haven’t smoked any since.” He has been off smoking about two to three years.

Gail Hollingsworth of Camden said the ban would not affect her one way or the other.

Paul Todd and his grandmother, city alderman Mary Phyll Waggoner are on opposite ends of the spectrum. She is totally against smoking and he has smoked about nine years. Paul said he supports the ban. “It is not big deal”, he said. “I think when there are a lot of young people around that there should not be smoking.”

Mary Phyll said it (ban) is “long overdue.”

Michelle Ballard, who is a veteran waitress at The Catfish Place restaurant in Camden said that she understands they are one of the few restaurants that allow smoking, but that will end on Oct. 1. “People are mixed on their feelings,” she said. “Some oppose it, some don’t care. Most accept it.”

Washington, D.C.; Puerto Rico; and 22 states have passed bans on smoking in bars, restaurants, and all workplaces. The top tobacco growing states â€" North Carolina, Kentucky, Tennessee, Virginia and South Carolina â€" have not passed such legislation, according to Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights, an advocacy group based in Berkeley, Calif.

“What’s exciting here is that we’re seeing more activity in what is traditionally tobacco country,” said Annie Tegen, senior program manager for the group. “Times are definitely changing, and just because they grow tobacco it does not mean that they’re not going to take public health seriously.”

Gary Nolan, a spokesman for the Smokers’ Club, a national property rights group, said the possibility of such a law in a tobacco state is unusual, but not surprising. Tobacco, Mr. Nolan said, is the “enemy du jour” for smoking opponents, who he called “antis.”

Tobacco’s falling fortunes can be seen in Tennessee’s annual crop statistics. The state’s peak tobacco year â€" for both burley, a light-colored tobacco used for cigarettes, and dark-fired tobacco used for dipping â€" was 1982, when farmers harvested 178 million pounds valued at nearly $307 million, data from the federal Department of Agriculture show.

In 1999, the harvest was 122 million pounds, valued at $239 million. After a 2005 federal tobacco buyout compensated growers who backed out of the industry, farmers last year harvested 49 million pounds, worth $93 million, the statistics show.