Letters to the Editor

Smoking ban takes precious freedoms

It would be far more appropriate if the smoking ban had taken effect on July 4 instead of July 1 ("Today marks freedom from breathing smoke," June 29). Then most Americans, who were busy breathing in the fumes from their barbecue grills, would realize that on the day we celebrate our independence, we nevertheless let our freedoms be taken away.

As a victim of bad legislation and a champion of personal liberty, what I am elated about regarding the smoking ban is the chance of finding a restaurant where I can eat without the annoyance of misbehaving children and irresponsible parents. As a grandmother, I'm sure you remember a time when children were "seen and not heard" especially in public.

You neglected to mention that you and millions of other nonsmoking Georgians had the opportunity to enjoy a restaurant meal free from secondhand smoke before the ban, as a large number of restaurants were already smoke-free, by their choice. How is it that you weren't able to find these establishments?

What you, the American Cancer Society and the other organizations that promoted this infringement on business owners' rights failed to address was why so many parents took their children to these alleged smoke-filled restaurants? Why, in your zeal, did you not point out that these parents were endangering their children? You didn't and people didn't stop taking their kids to restaurants with smoking and nonsmoking areas, even though there were plenty of smoke-free places.

Congratulations! With the combination of hyperbole, scare tactics, dubious polls and inconclusive evidence, backed by a compliant media that gave you and every other group more than ample print, weak-kneed Gov. Sonny Purdue gave his swishy hand-wringing support.

I sincerely hope that you and the American Cancer Society can use the massive power of your lobbying efforts to truly enact results that will make a difference, punish offenders and actually save lives, rather than just making it convenient for you to go out to dinner.

- Tony Rivera