All cheer this ’Bama landmark
by The Anniston Star Editorial Board
Apr 12, 2012 | 2440 views |  0 comments | 18 18 recommendations | email to a friend | print
This spring, debate is rolling on over the efforts of Alabama Sen. Vivian Figures, D-Mobile, to ban smoking in most public places. Talk also is continuing about increasing tobacco taxes to discourage smoking and help plug the big budget hole in the General Fund.

But little has been made of what the state has already done to address the health risk that accompanies smoking.

That’s why it was good to hear that the Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights’ annual Smoke-Free Indoor Air Challenge Award has been given to … Alabama.

Unexpectedly, Alabama was tied with California in leading the nation in passing new local ordinances that restricted public smoking while at the same time strengthening existing smoking laws.

According to that organization, “Alabama led the nation in having enacted the greatest number of strong, new smoke-free laws in 2011 … This is a landmark achievement for public health.”

We agree.

Over the years, a number of advocacy groups and individuals throughout the state have worked hard in local communities to limit the health risks of smoking and second-hand smoke. They have pushed for tighter controls on tobacco sales to minors and for the regulation of vending machines that sell cigarettes. That work has paid off, and these groups are to be congratulated.

Congratulation should also go to the other communities with strong local laws in non-hospitality workplaces, restaurants and bars. According to the Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights, there were less than 50 cities and counties on the list 10 years ago. This year, there were more than 500.

It also should be noted that tied for second place with Mississippi and Missouri was Kentucky, one of the nation’s historic tobacco-producing states. If Kentucky can make progress, so, too, can the rest of the nation.

And should.
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