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Utah should be taking the lead in efforts to eliminate smoking in public places, not playing catch-up to what’s being done in other parts of the country, even the world.

It is why the Salt Lake County Health Department’s proposal to ban smoking in “all places of employment, restaurants, bars, private clubs, parks and other public recreation areas” deserves support.

Let’s finally face the fact in this state that smoking is no longer a religious issue.

Foremost, it’s a health issue: it “kills over 1,200 Utahns annually.” *

And it’s an economic issue: “Utah incurs $587 million annually in smoking-attributable medical and productivity costs.” *

The good news is fewer than 12 percent of the state’s adult population smoke.

So, why dilly-dally with trying to be patently accommodating to those who still have the habit? As one health board member said in support of the broader ban, “it’s not about enforcement; it’s not about fines; it’s about cultural change. The ultimate goal is to reinforce that smoking is harmful and dangerous.”

KSL agrees! We endorse the resolution of the Health Department of the state’s most diverse county. And we encourage Utah lawmakers to make whatever changes are necessary to the state’s ten-year-old Clean Air Act to allow a broader ban on smoking in public places.

*Tobacco Prevention and Control in Utah, Fourth Annual Report, 2004, Utah Department of Health.

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