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A STEP FORWARD FOR PINE BLUFF

Publication Date: 2005-07-10
  • Author:Editorial
  • Publication:Pine Bluff (AR) Commercial
Pine Bluff has become the state's second major city to impose restrictions on smoking in public places, including job sites, stores and restaurants. The ordinance, which divided the City Council and won approval in June after a key vote by Mayor Carl Redus Jr., took effect late last week.

The law's implementation occurred with a bit of a twist.

From the time it was proposed, the smoking restriction was a controversial and divisive notion. Predictably, some restaurant operators were vocal opponents. They argued the government shouldn't intrude and their customers should be able to engage in a tobacco habit if they chose. Also, the business owners feared they would lose customers who would travel out of town to eat and light up...

Supporters of the restrictions expected opponents to mount a petition drive and many were gearing up for a campaign to preserve the law.

On Wednesday afternoon, at virtually the last minute, a box of signed petitions was delivered to the city clerk's office. The next afternoon, city officials announced that the opponents were 102 signatures short of the 2,803 needed to block the new law from taking effect.

And with that startling development, Pine Bluff joined Fayetteville in a progressive and healthy step...

This newspaper endorsed the smoking restrictions, even though we had reservations about portions of the law and had urged city officials to make some modifications. However, we believe it is a worthy measure that deserves support despite those shortcomings.

The Chicken Little approach used by some opponents did little to convince those who saw the benefits of the restrictions. By calling themselves Citizens for Economic Development and Growth, opponents appeared politically manipulative and even amateurish.

There will be an adjustment period as our community gets used to the smoking ordinance, and we urge everyone involved to be patient.

It is a step in the right direction.