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My Voice: Harm of secondhand smoke justifies statewide ban

Publication Date: 2010-09-22
  • Author:Argus-Leader
  • Publication:H. Bruce Vogt, M.D.

During last year's legislative session, our lawmakers passed a smoke-free workplace law. This was a huge step for our state.

The law was to have gone into effect July 1, 2009. Unfortunately, shortly thereafter, our anticipation of walking into a smoke-free restaurant was thwarted - temporarily, I hope - when opponents of the legislation gathered the signatures of enough registered voters to refer the law to the ballot.

The fate of the legislation, Referred Law 12, will be decided by voters Nov. 2. In my view, we cannot miss this opportunity to have a powerful impact on the health of our citizens...

Understanding that South Dakotans are independent-minded, that many object to the government telling us what we can or cannot do and/or argue that the government has no right to mandate such things, we cannot lose sight of the fact that this issue relates to the public's greater good. The government does, in fact, have a responsibility to enact laws to protect the public's safety and health - small businesses are regulated by a number of such laws.

As I see it, the greater good includes not only the physical health of the populace but also the positive effect this can have by decreasing the cost of health care because of the ravages of tobacco. Those concerned about a negative economic effect should be reassured by the knowledge that numerous independent, scientifically valid economic studies have concluded that smoke-free policies have either a neutral or positive economic effect on businesses.

It's time, South Dakotans.

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