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Smoking Bans: When Will Simply Smoking be Illegal?

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A man smoking on the Pearl Street Mall (credit: CBS)

A man smoking on the Pearl Street Mall (credit: CBS)

Written by Dominic Dezzutti

The city of Fort Collins is considering a new smoking ban that would make it illegal to smoke outdoors in certain areas. The areas in the new ban under discussion would include restaurant patios, parks, certain open walking areas and trails.

While the city council has yet to decide on the issue, planning to vote sometime in October, it begs the question, how fast will this slippery slope lead to an outright ban of smoking tobacco?

I realize this idea may seem like heresy since there are still those that remember times when smoking nearly anywhere was not only legal, but considered fairly normal.

However, if Fort Collins could consider strengthening its own smoking ban, how far away is a small town that feels they can get away with an outright ban? Anyone who has followed what certain towns in California have tried would have to admit this isn’t a crazy idea to contemplate.

I imagine that only an outright ban of smoking tobacco would be enough to finally create a backlash where a majority of voters, including a great deal of non-smokers, would stand up and say we’ve gone too far.

But can that “too far” moment really be that close if the collective response from the community to the Fort Collins proposal has been a collective yawn? If that’s the reaction, maybe I am way off thinking that there is a “too far” moment on the horizon. Maybe an outright ban would be accepted by Colorado voters.

Personally, it seems odd to live in a state that embraces the freedom to use marijuana recreationally, but looks at tobacco smoke with such disdain.

I’m a non-smoker and I realize the very deadly results of smoking including cancer and emphysema.

However, I also realize that we have already passed enough laws to protect non-smokers in nearly any occasion.

And I also realize that there are more cancer dangers out there for non-smokers than second-hand smoke. Honestly, there are probably more carcinogens coming from cars sitting in traffic and sizzling fajitas at your favorite restaurant than most people encounter from smokers nowadays.

But more importantly, I wonder if anyone sees any correlation between smokers slowly losing their rights over the health concerns of others and other potential infringements of our personal liberty.

While overturned, we have already seen New York City attempt to ban large sodas. How long will it be before restaurants who serve fatty food are charged a “health tax” to help subsidize health care costs?

For that matter, with the amount of pollution that single drivers put in our collective atmosphere, why won’t they be asked to pay more at the pump?

Do those ideas really sound that far-fetched?

Smoking bans sounded ludicrous to us less than a generation ago, so be careful what you consider crazy.

About The Blogger

- Dominic Dezzutti, producer of the Colorado Decides debate series, a co-production of CBS4 and Colorado Public Television, looks at the local and national political scene in his CBSDenver.com blog. Read new entries here usually every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Dezzutti writes about federal, state and local matters and how our elected leaders are handling the issues important to Colorado. Dezzutti is also the host and producer of the Emmy award winning Colorado Inside Out on Colorado Public Television.

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