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OUR VIEW: Legislature blows it on statewide smoke-free law

Publication Date: 2012-05-27
  • Author:Birmingham News editorial board
  • Publication:‎The Birmingham News

Alabama lawmakers will enthusiastically and overwhelmingly pass an overreaching anti-immigration law that, they say, will protect Alabama jobs for legal residents.

But for the 14th year in a row, they have refused to pass a statewide smoke-free law to help protect the health of nonsmokers, and especially workers who have no choice but to be exposed to unhealthy secondhand smoke.

God bless Vivian Figures, D-Mobile. This was her 14th try at getting the smoke-free law passed. She actually decided to try two plans this year: One was a straight bill that would ban smoking in most public places, with a few exceptions. The other had basically the same restrictions, but would be a constitutional amendment, which means it would require a statewide vote.

That constitutional amendment didn't get out of the Senate Health Committee, which is good. An issue like this shouldn't be settled by voters's whims, especially when a well-funded tobacco lobby could mount a campaign against it. The reason a smoke-free law is necessary is to protect health.

The companion bill, however, passed the Health Committee by a 5-0 vote on March 15. Then it ground to a halt. Though it made the Senate calendar, the bill was carried over twice before being indefinitely postponed.

That's too bad for people who don't want to be exposed to somebody's secondhand smoke.

Understand, this is not a rights issue. It's strictly a health issue...