Our view: Smoking is a drag, but ...

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Cigarette smoking is a deadly and addictive habit that affects not only smokers but also those in their vicinity. It is our hope that anyone who is a smoker will develop the will and the strength to quit.

That said, we do not think a ban on smoking in public places in Craig is practical, reasonable or enforceable -- not that anyone is pushing for one. It's not something the Craig City Council is considering, so smokers currently have nothing to fear.

However, we think there are some indications that local business owners may want to start thinking about going smoke-free. And we would welcome such a move as a positive development for the community.

One local business that appears to be prospering despite banning smoking is Carelli's. Owner Jim Diehl could not be reached for comment Thursday about why he chose his restaurant to be smoke-free, but it's clear that people are willing to give up smoking inside his restaurant for the opportunity to enjoy lunch, dinner or a beer there.

That's the model we hope others will emulate. Many bar and restaurant managers fear that they will lose business if they ban smoking, but Carelli's has proven that's not always the case.

Citizens Against Unhealthy Smoke-filled Environments, a Jefferson County grass-roots initiative to raise awareness about the negative effects of second-hand smoke and the effectiveness of formal and voluntary policies to reduce exposure to secondhand smoke -- has compiled research that indicate smoking bans don't negatively affect restaurant revenues.

It seems reasonable to require restaurants to provide nonsmoking sections, but let's say an anti-smoking movement took root here in Craig. How how far could a city ordinance banning smoking in public places take such restrictions? What effect would a more restrictive smoking ban have on businesses?

That's not to say we endorse smoking. To the contrary -- we support education and awareness campaigns about the dangers of smoking, smoke-free schools and smoking bans in public buildings and on public transportation. Such tools, we think, have helped reduce the level of smoking in Craig and across the country.

But until some brave bar owner decides to test the market and offer smoke-free environments, we may never see whether Craig residents embrace the opportunity to go out and socialize without coming home smelling like an ashtray.

Last year, the Kiwanis Club decided to go smoke-free both nights of its annual play and didn't suffer any drop-off in attendance.

The Rotary Club's annual Diamond and Spurs event has always been smoke-free, but that doesn't prevent a big turnout.

The point is, Craig residents have shown a willingness to overlook smoking bans for a big social event. If that's the case, some local business owner may seize the opportunity to introduce a smoke-free bar, nightclub or restaurant and we'd find that refreshing.

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