Monday, May 08, 2006

Getting on the Ban Wagon

With Champaign becoming the latest Illinois city to consider a smoking ban, U. S. Senator Dick Durbin has weighed in sending this letter to the Champaign City Council endorsing the ban. Additionally, WCIA-TV last night had video of Durbin speaking out on the issue.

Durbin has been criticized by some Champaign smoking ban opponents who claim to think Durbin should stay out of what they see as a strictly local issue. In truth, I think they are just upset that Durbin’s intervention may hurt their cause.

Durbin lending his voice to the idea of a smoking ban is a good thing as far as I’m concerned but I do have one question: Did Durbin send the Springfield City Council a similar letter when the smoking ban was being debated here? If he did, I missed it and I followed the smoking ban story here pretty closely. I don’t remember any media account of such a thing. Maybe he’s just now getting on board hoping to gain political points riding the tide of a winning issue. Whatever the reason, it would have been nice to have had him speak up here in Springfield, you know, HIS HOME TOWN. I hardly think he would have been criticized for meddling in local affairs here.

I’m glad Durbin supports the local smoking bans but I would like him to get behind a statewide ban as well. Rather than enacting hundreds of local bans with differing rules, I’d like to see any ban apply everywhere in the state, similar to what California and other states have very successfully implemented.

Update: Someone writing anonymously in comments says Durbin did write a letter of support for the Springfield ban that was published in the SJ-R on October 19th of last year. See the comment for the full text.


Anonymous said...

Durbin did write a letter to the SJ-R during the debate over the ban. It was published Oct. 19. Here it is:

A recent family vacation to Ireland took me back to my grandmother's ancestral roots and gave Loretta and me another chance to experience the warmth of the Irish people. Some of our favorite moments were spent in those simple pubs where families gather to lift a pint of Guinness and listen to that beautiful Irish music. On this trip those visits were better than ever. Those moments meant so much more.


Because the pubs, the restaurants and virtually all of the public places in Ireland are now smoke-free. Smokers can sit at outside tables or step outside to smoke and nonsmokers are spared the danger and stench of second-hand smoke. Business has never been better in Ireland and everyone now accepts this healthy standard.

Sixteen years ago I authored the federal legislation that banned smoking on airplanes. Younger people today find it incredible that we actually believed there was a "nonsmoking" section on a smoke-filled airplane. The same holds true for restaurants and taverns today. We should not be misled into believing that a few feet of separation provide any protection from the danger or irritation of secondhand smoke.

As a resident of Springfield, I urge the Springfield City Council to do the right thing. Vote to protect the health of children, asthmatics, the elderly and all of us who value clean air. Support a meaningful smoking ban in Springfield and urge the Sangamon County Board to do the same for our county.

Our capital city now draws thousands of new visitors each year. Let them return home to tell of a family-friendly city where our city leaders had the vision to make Springfield smoke-free.

Dick Durbin
U.S. Senator

Anonymous said...

Durbin was also involved behind the scenes encouraging city leaders to support the ban.