Should Boyle County go smoke-free? Absolutely.

Published 3:52 am Thursday, July 11, 2019


The Advocate-Messenger

We fully endorse a smoke-free law for Boyle County. We endorse it because it would protect the rights and freedoms of thousands of Boyle County residents. We also endorse it because it’s really good for business. Thirdly, we endorse it because of the immediate and long-term health and quality of life benefits that would come as a side effect.

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Protecting the rights and freedoms of Boyle County residents is the most important of all three reasons for our support. In America, the protection of our rights under our Constitution is paramount. A law that was good for business and good for health, but which accomplished those benefits by trampling on individual rights, would not be a good fit for our American ideals.

A smoke-free law protects the rights of all Boyle Countians — and the thousands who travel and work here daily — to breathe clean air. Those opposed to such a law often try to claim the mantle of individual rights; it most certainly does not belong to them.

The rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness have been enshrined in the fabric of this nation since its very beginning. At its core, American liberty means you can do as you wish with your own life, so long as your choices do not prevent others from enjoying the same freedom.

Those who claim they have a right to smoke in public where others must work, walk, play or conduct business are turning this core American concept on its head — they are demanding they be allowed to do as they wish regardless of how it affects others’ abilities to do as they wish.

Secondly, smoke-free laws are good for business. Employees are on average healthier and need less time off from work when their workplaces are smoke-free. Businesses that do not allow smoking attract more customers. Smoke-free communities themselves are more attractive to new and expanding businesses, because they have healthier workforces.

The City of Perryville discussed the possibility of a smoke-free law this week, but it seems the idea may now be on hold as the city waits to see if Boyle County will pursue a county-wide smoke-free ordinance. Given the business benefits of going smoke-free, we’re left wondering why Perryville wouldn’t go ahead and put its own law on the books regardless of what Boyle County does.

Perryville could get ahead of the curve and lead on this, rather than taking a seat in the back. The city wants Merchant’s Row to be a thriving commercial space, the economic heart of west Boyle County. Why wouldn’t it take every opportunity to make locating in Perryville as attractive as possible?

Thirdly, smoke-free laws benefit public health and quality of life. People living in smoke-free communities are less likely to smoke — though importantly, they are allowed to smoke if they choose. Less secondhand smoke and fewer smokers means fewer health care problems and fewer years of life lost to premature death. Fewer smokers also means fewer people chained to the cost of buying cigarettes, and fewer people stuck with huge medical bills. That means more people get to keep more of their money to spend in better ways.

People in smoke-free communities live longer, happier and wealthier lives — that’s a fact.

Any way you look at it, a smoke-free law for Boyle County just makes sense. Some of our leaders are stepping up to the plate and getting ready to take a swing at it, and we applaud them for it. We hope they hit a home run.