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Legislators are Hurting Small Businesses with New Smoking Ban

Letters to the Editor
Adirondack Journal
Warrensburg, New York
July 26, 2003

To the Adirondack Journal:

The new ban on all smoking in the workplace demonstrates the arrogance of the New York State Legislature. A small business like the Stony Creek Inn, which has been a boon to our little town for just about a century, provides employment for local people and a place for people to gather to relax, converse, relish good dinners, dance, and enjoy live music. The Inn's proprietors, Dot and John Bartell, have contributed to the town in countless ways, not the least of which is their community Thanksgiving dinner. Yet, the Legislature cares little for the fact that not everyone has kicked the smoking habit and that, when people customarily gather for a drink at an establishment like the Stony Creek Inn, many have a cigarette. It seems unlikely that employees will be able to serve liquor if no smoking is allowed inside the establishment. How many small establishments will be hurt by the new legislation?

The irony is that the New York State Department of Health avoids focusing on an important way (some think the most important way) to reduce the harmfulness of tobacco smoking. About fifteen years ago, when I was an officer of the board of directors of the Adirondack Branch of the American Lung Association of New York State, the Association published my brochure about the danger of radiation in tobacco smoke. By an accident of geology and nature, tobacco gathers the high radiation emissions of phosphate fertilizer. This radiation is never removed during the processing of the leaf. Radioactive particles from tobacco end up primarily in the bifurcations of the lungs, emitting typical cumulative lifetime radiation equal to the skin dose from 8,000 chest x-rays, according to a study by Little and Radford published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 1965, one of many published scientific studies of radiation in tobacco smoke. My brother, who is an atomic physicist at Penn State and who helped me with the brochure, "entertained" us one day with a Geiger counter that clicked away when placed in proximity to a package of cigarettes.

It is always interesting when politicians and bureaucrats who want to "help" us take the easy way out, oddly, the way most likely to hurt small businesses and local town economies.

Carol W. LaGrasse
Property Rights Foundation of America
Stony Creek, N.Y.

See the brochure "Radioactivity in Cigarette Smoke"

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