By HDN staff
Heres news: Smoking kills. Even the tobacco companies recently confessed that their product causes cancer. Its a fact the American Cancer Society and Surgeon General have known for years.
But while most progressive Montana cities and their respected governments have already banned smoking in public places or are in the process of doing so Havre has yet to lift a nicotine-stained finger on the issue.
The question is, why? Why do non-smokers have to suffer when they enter a public establishment because there isnt a non-smoking ordinance and because the smokers dont have any courtesy.
Shop owners smoke in their stores at the mall. Ashtrays are set throughout the Atrium for your convenience, no doubt. Smokers puff away in the Laundromat while non-smokers are trying to get their clothes clean and fresh. And then theres the store clerks at the gas stations who pass out food and money between hits on their Camels.
Granted, many may argue, if you dont like it, dont enter the establishment. After all, most of them are privately owned.
This may be fine and dandy, but its overly simple. Many people have to enter the gas station, many have to use the Laundro-mat, and many enjoy the option of the mall. Non-smokers shouldnt get the cancerous end of the stick simply because they need gasoline or have to wash their clothes.
Businesses within the city offer a public service and are already required to meet certain safety codes, so why is cigarette smoke not considered a safety hazard in Havre? Everywhere else, people seem to know the dangers to the non-smoking public, and they have moved to protect non-smokers by banning smoking in public establishments.
Undoubtedly, it wouldnt be popular. Change never is. But it comes as a surprise that in this day and age, when the perils of smoking are known, those who do not smoke have to suffer alongside smokers.
Theres no doubt that smoking should be permitted by the individual. It is a personal freedom which even non-smokers must defend.
However, this personal freedom should not infringe on the rights of others. It should be kept outside, out of public establishments or in traditional places where smoking is accepted, such as bars and ventilated booths in designated smoking areas.
Its nice to see the few places in town which offer a smoke-free environment. Its too bad there are so few, and it would be nice to see the city follow these few examples as a whole.