Do we need government 'baby-sitters' for health?
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Crusades against smoking are getting tougher, as shown by several new crackdowns on this continent and overseas. Officials in Michigan, Ontario and China are among those who want to go beyond warnings by banning tobacco use in more situations.
Michigan's effort consists of two bills passed by legislators to forbid smoking in bars, restaurants and other indoor public workplaces. The state Senate version approved last week covers casinos and bingo halls, which aren't in a House proposal passed earlier. More than 30 other states have such laws to protect nonsmoking workers from secondhand smoke health risks.
Across the border in the Canadian province of Ontario, a new proposal would allow $250 fines for anyone smoking in a vehicle when someone under 16 is present. It doesn't matter if the car is stopped, if all the windows are down and the sunroof open, or whether a driver or rider is smoking. Two other provinces and four American states (Arkansas, California, Maine, Louisiana) already ban smoking in vehicles carrying youngsters.
Supporter says: "We place a high priority on the health of our citizens. [A workplace smoking ban] will go a long way toward influencing the action of our young people, too." -- Gov. Jennifer Granholm of Michigan
Critic says: "I love my country, but God, some days I fear my government. This is another case of it sticking its nose where it doesn't belong." - Michigan Sen. Alan Sanborn, who voted against his state's proposed law
Restaurant owner says: "There are so many government mandates, this is just one more. And what about sports bars, where people go to smoke and drink and watch TV?" - Mary Brady, board member of Michigan Restaurant Association
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