Joe Walker: No to ban


I would like to voice my opposition to a no-smoking ordinance by the Steamboat Springs City Council.

I am not a smoker, never have been a smoker and operate a smoke-free restaurant. My view is that this is not a public safety issue about second-hand smoke. It is an issue of personal freedom.

The government already has enough intrusive policies that dictate different aspects of how I operate my business, and no-smoking legislation should not be added to the list. Whether to allow smoking should be the choice of the individual business owners, based on what they perceive is best for their customers and employees. As always, it is the customers and employees choice to support or work for smoke-free businesses.

I also see this as a dangerous path for government to be taking. There are plenty of other potentially hazardous practices that we choose to do every day that affect not only ourselves but also those around us. Will the next piece of legislation outlaw junk food because it may cause health problems and increase the cost of health care for us all? Will we outlaw any vehicle that does not get at least 35 miles to the gallon because it uses too much gas? Probably not. And the same goes for smoking. Everyone knows about the health problems associated with smoking and also about the dangers of second-hand smoke. Whether to smoke or to be around those who smoke is our choice. It should remain our choice.

As an alternative, I suggest those people putting so much energy into telling me how to live my life and run my business redirect that energy toward educating the public. I would gladly post a "Proud to Be Non-Smoking" sticker on the front window of my business or a "Not Going To A Place Where There's Smoke" bumper sticker on my car (don't laugh, the ice rink got a roof because of bumper stickers).

The paper could offer three free words in every help wanted ad, "a non-smoking business," if it believes in the issue. I would bet that there are even sources of money for non-smoking education from the billion dollar tobacco company settlements.

I'm sure we can come up with many more creative ways to reduce the effect of second-hand smoke in our community than legislation. That would make us leaders and not just lawmakers.

Joe Walker

Steamboat Springs


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