Friday, March 8, 2013

Ketchum behind the parade?

Ketchum is a nonsmoking kind of place. People today know full well that smoking causes cancer and that second-hand smoke is dangerous. Athletes know that smoking inhibits performance.

The recognition that the majority of customers dislike smoke-filled restaurants, bars and entertainment venues drove owners to ban smoking years ago. Their cash registers forced them to do it, not a city ordinance.

Yet the Ketchum City Council is considering an ordinance to ban smoking in public places and businesses. The ordinance would prohibit smoking within 20 feet of a bus stop. Violators could be ticketed and punished with a $50 fine. The Ketchum Police Department would be in charge of enforcement.

Proponents, including a group called Smoke Free Idaho, say the ordinance will protect employees, and it would if there were employees forced to work in smoky environments like they were before consumer pressure, the threat of lost revenue and the potential loss of good employees seemed to eliminate the problem.

If the ordinance is not to be solely an exercise in feeling good about doing good, the council needs to insist on enforcement. The city prohibits drivers from leaving cars to idle while they run errands, yet cars continue to idle unticketed all over the city. The city also requires owners of commercial property to clear sidewalks, yet many sidewalks remain clogged for days after snowstorms.

If the council really wants to solve a problem, it should ban driving while talking on a cell phone within the city. The science about the danger it poses is in, and it’s a problem in need of a solution.

However, the council would have to get in front of the parade instead of behind it.


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