We would like to commend Bob Baker, owner of Rim Country Lanes, for what must have been a difficult decision to ban smoking in his business. We applaud him for his courage.
For years, bowling alleys have been a last bastion for cigarette smokers. Any mental image of a night of league bowling quickly incorporates a pack of Marlboro Reds and a Budweiser served in a plastic cup.
Temporarily, Baker may lose some customers who feel their personal freedom has been violated, but take a look at any community that has banned smoking from bars and restaurants and you'll see the grumbling subsides with passing time and the worries about lost profits turn out to be unfounded.
Times are changing. This is no longer the era of bridge games and chain smoking. As research has shown that we can live longer if we live better, we are becoming a healthier society.
Smokers may feel they are being dragged unwillingly behind a mob of healthy joggers. As more and more businesses become nonsmoking, smokers are being marginalized to glass cages in airports and cold sidewalks in winter.
But this is free enterprise at work in a country where the most powerful votes are made by how and where we spend our money.
We do not advocate a townwide, government-instituted smoking ban, but we do believe that more and more businesses should and will ban smoking of their own accord at the will of their customers.
We are a country divided. We are divided between those who see a pack of unfiltered Pall Malls and think of the pleasure it will bring and those who see a lighted cigarette and think of the smell that clings to clothes and hair, that "hangs on the walls" to quote an employee of Rim Country Lanes.
Baker said the reason for his decision was to make the bowling alley more of a family friendly environment.
You can argue that customers can choose not to frequent a place where smoking is allowed, but in a town with few entertainment options, teenagers and children will end up bowling side by side with a consummate smoker.
No parent should have to clean second hand smoke out of their child's clothes. No child should have to breathe it.