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EDITORIAL: Banning smoke

Publication Date: 8/27/2008
  • Author:Editorials
  • Publication:The Keene Sentinel, NH

Half a dozen years ago Keene implemented the state's first restaurant smoking ban. The initiative was later overturned by the Supreme Court on grounds that, in New Hampshire, only the Legislature had such authority. It took a few more years, but eventually the Legislature did enact a statewide version of the Keene ban, effective in September 2007. In both cases, the debates in Keene and in Concord pitted public health concerns against assertions of personal freedom to run a private business as one saw fit.

The public health argument had precedent on its side. Decades earlier, governments had outlawed spitting, to help control the spread of tuberculosis--a strategy that worked. Now there's fresh evidence that the banning of smoking in indoor places, including restaurants, has had a similarly positive health effect. A new study in Scotland, recently published in the New England Journal of Medicine, says that, thanks to a 2006 ban on indoor smoking in that country, hospital admissions for heart attacks and other acute coronary problems are down by more than 15 percent.