Smoking Debate In Payson

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Editor:

Recent survey information indicates that 20 to 22 percent of the United States population are smokers (source: Doral & Company -- a part of R. J. Reynolds Tobacco Co.), or about 45 million people. Given this, it would seem that we smokers should have some say in government (federal, state and local) rulings which affect us. We may be a minority, but a very significant one.

Consider the percentage of our nation's population that is handicapped. I would guess no more than 2 percent. And look at how much money businesses are forced to spend to make their establishments handicapped accessible --amps, special rest room facilities, parking places, etc. -- all required by government mandate.

Does something appear to be out of proportion here?

For the handicapped population, millions are required by law to be spent to accommodate them. But for the citizens who are smokers, no accommodations are required (or in some cases not even allowed) for them.

Sure, some will say being handicapped is not a choice and being a smoker is. But, isn't our country founded on freedom of choice: choice of religion, choice of where you want to live, choice of what you do with your life, choice of size of family you have, etc.?

I don't see how any reasonable person could find anything wrong with customers having a choice of smoking or nonsmoking sections in restaurants or other public places. This would seem to be a fair and equitable solution.

I would predict if this issue is brought before the voters in Payson it will most likely lead to no smoking in restaurants and other public places. But, given the historically low voter turnout on local issues, if at least 90 percent of nonsmokers turned out to vote on it, and if only 15 to 20 percent of those opposed bothered to vote, it could be defeated. It's certainly possible. I would certainly urge local smokers (and nonsmokers who respect the rights and choices of others) to take the time to vote on this one, should it be put to a vote. I would even take it one step further and word the ballot measure so that if passed, it would require local restaurants and public places to have both smoking and nonsmoking sections.

Dave Heffron, Payson

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