Friday, December 15, 2006

SC Times supports smoking ban, rips Tom Emmer!

I came home from work, very pleased this evening. The SC Times supports a smoking ban, noting that the DFL takeover in the House was needed to see it though.

Additionally, the SC Times took a few good shots at Rep. Tom Emmer, a Delano Republican.

Specifically, they cite Emmer's comparing smoking and eating a cheeseburger.

Using Emmer's rationale, business should be able to determine what temperature to serve their food at, afterall, that's too much government regulation.

Workers ought to have the right to not wash their hands after...well, you know what they did and why they need to wash their hands. It's a personal freedom, a choice to not wash your hands.

We should be able to insulate with Asbestos.

We need leaded fuels, and lead in paint.

We need choices.

Perhaps, level headed leaders stepped forward and made difficult decisions at some point, making sure the good of mankind remained first and foremost.

So, here's what the SC Times had to say...

With the political tide of the Minnesota House now turned, it's time to adopt a statewide smoking ban.

The Freedom to Breathe Act, patterned after successful smoke-free laws in seven states, requires Minnesota workplaces — including bars and restaurants — to ban smoking.

Gov. Tim Pawlenty has said he will sign legislation, and we believe most area legislators support a statewide ban. But the key is the House switching from Republican to DFL control. Now what's best for the public should finally rise above protecting businesses that see no harm in needlessly exposing workers — and customers — to the deadly threat of secondhand smoke.

Don't get sidetracked by those trying to misrepresent this as government infringing on business or the first step in banning cheeseburgers.

On the former, any and every employer must comply with a variety of laws aimed at protecting workers and customers. Yet under Minnesota's patchwork of 16 county and city smoking bans, thousands of bars and restaurants are not bound to protect employees and customers from secondhand smoke, including all of the St. Cloud metro area.

In fact, our metro area is the largest regional center without any type of ban. Do we really not care about the health of these workers? Or is it just too difficult to get so many levels of local government to cooperate and make sure workers are protected?

Then again, if bars and restaurants don't have to do this, why should some industries be required to provide protective gear for employees who handle toxic chemicals? Or, heck, why should schools have to do background checks on potential staffers?

Your neighbor, the plant worker, can always find another job elsewhere. Or you can always open-enroll your kid to a school that does check if its potential hires are registered sex offenders.

As for the mention of cheeseburgers, that's in response to a ridiculous comment made last week by Rep. Tom Emmer, a Republican representing Delano and a staunch opponent of the ban.

Emmer told the Star Tribune, "If this is what government is for, let's go to the next step — why not cheeseburgers? Big Brother has got to take care of us because we are too dumb or too lazy to care for ourselves."

Emmer clearly doesn't understand the issue. Yes, everyone has the choice to order and eat a cheeseburger at a restaurant. But unlike smoking tobacco, the fumes wafting from his burger do not contribute to cancer, heart disease and many other deadly diseases.

Yet whether it's the delicious scent of a cheeseburger or the disgusting stench of a cigarette or cigar, workers (and customers) have no choice but to inhale all of them.

Overall, a statewide ban should have been passed long ago. As we've noted for the past three years, failure to do so has not only left Minnesotans exposed to the dangers of tobacco, but it's created an uneven playing field for businesses and communities.

Level the playing field and protect all Minnesotans. Tell your legislators to pass the Freedom to Breathe Act when the Legislature convenes next month.

Our kids will ask us why it took us so long to do this! Get it done...worry about Emmer's Juicy Lucy later!

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