Potential smoking ban hurts small businesses

As an Oregon consumer, I ask you to consider the following:

Despite popular belief, smoking bans do cause economic harm. Many local economic markets have seen dramatic drops in tax revenues from public smoking bans.

Historically, smoking ban advocates argued that patrons were annoyed and made uncomfortable by secondhand smoke. When opponents argued that patrons can choose to patronize non-smoking establishments, the argument quickly turned to protecting the health of employees. The truth is that employees in restaurants and bars are simply being used as political pawns, and are not truly the subjects of advocate sympathies.

If public smoking is banned due to supposed individual health concerns, then should the government not ban individuals from wearing perfumes or using fragrant-laced body washes and hair products? What of beauty salons using hair treatment chemicals and chemical-based nail polishes? Why do restaurants allow pets on their premises when other customers may be allergic? Should the government not also regulate these businesses and ban the public dissemination of these potentially harmful allergens?

Smoking already is regulated throughout the United States by age-restriction. Banning adult-age restricted venues such as bars, taverns and restaurant lounges from allowing their customers to smoke simply is government oppression of small business owners.

Bars, taverns and premium tobacco retail stores have become the modern-era salon, where men and women of all demographics enjoy each other's company, companionship, share common interests and even discuss differences in a safe, comfortable environment.

This legislation only will cause irrevocable and irreversible harm to small business owners who take no holidays. These business owners work year-round to support their families and provide a place of employment for other family providers.

There simply is no conclusive data that secondhand smoke is related to human illnesses. You need to look no further than the latest United States Surgeon General's report and conclusion for affirmation.

While I fully support the right of many not to be impacted by secondhand smoke, I also support the reasonable right of smokers to be able to enjoy their legal products without being ostracized or penalized.

Based on the aforementioned points, private business owners - not governments - should continue to be allowed to make the final decisions on how they run their businesses. In a capitalistic society, it's the business owner's decisions that should dictate success or failure.

Thank you for your attention and consideration.

Penny Zamora

Milton-Freewater

Editor's Note: The 2006 U.S. Surgeon General's report concluded secondhand smoke causes premature death and disease in children and in adults who do not smoke.

Skateboarders need park, but it needs to be patrolled

On Saturday afternoon, my husband and I took our 18-month-old sweetie on a sunny walk along the river to Roy Raley Park for some sunshine and swing time. When we arrived, there were about 22 young people skateboarding in the cement court area.

Now, during the past couple of years while our city has determined the need for a skatepark for our young people, we have strongly supported this project with cash donations and such, viewing it as a very good thing.

I don't know any skateboarders but have read all the articles in the EO outlining their qualifications about being great kids, but also that a lot of people stereotype them as bad kids just because of their look, manner and choice of recreation. We've never had an opinion. Until now.

To create a jump, a picnic table had been pulled over to an incline they had created. The object appeared to be to skate across the court, jump the incline, skate across the top of the table and, presumably, land upright on the pavement.

Many accomplished this rather daring feat quite gracefully, but of course, there also were the major crashes.

Other than perhaps defacing the top of the table, no basic harm was done as we saw no broken bones, just a few bloodied shoulders, elbows and knees.

However, then you must add in the continual "f" words, which seemed to be every other word, and of course, shouted for emphasis. The beer that showed up was apparently provided by one of the only two adults we saw present, but several of the young people indulged in that option as well.

The cigarettes also were available and children as young as 12 were smoking (yes, we actually knew the 12 year old in question so we know his age). We did not have a phone with us to call the police.

Would they have found anything if they had cruised through on their own? I doubt it. 

Cars were lined up on the road to hide the beer, etc. and I wonder if the language would have been quite so filthy while the cruiser was going through either. 

During the time we were there (which we cut short so our little one didn't have to hear the language), we found ourselves discouraged as to the skate board park option, which is scheduled to be very close to our home.

Will that be the type of behavior we can come to expect? Is that what parents of other young people can expect them to be subjected to once it's open? I don't know.

What I do know is that we must be very careful as we plan for this park; to be sure and make it an addition that will be an advantage for our city, not something we wish we'd never done. 

Will my husband and I still support the park? Absolutely. Our young people need this type of recreational option. We just need to be very careful of how we plan to keep it a safe and fun option.

Marilynn Colcord

Pendleton

The East Oregonian welcomes letters for publication on topics of local interest. Submitted letters must be signed by the author and include city of residence and a daytime phone number. The phone number will not be published. Unsigned letters will not be published.

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