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Tougher No-Smoking Ordinances Urged

September 22, 2002

Mission Viejo's proposed anti-smoking ordinance appeared to go up in smoke on Monday night. I was there and watched it happen.

It would appear that Mission Viejo does not yet have the courage to protect its citizens.

While I certainly appreciate the difficulty of the city's position, I feel strongly that this is an ordinance that must be approved soon for the safety of all citizens.

No one would argue that this is a simple problem. People have rights in this country. We take great pride, and rightly so, in protecting personal rights. But it is not legal to do harm. Our rights stop at the point where we hurt others.

As we have learned of the very real dangers of secondhand smoke, most of us have realized that laws must soon be changed to protect citizens. There are no safe levels of secondhand smoke. According to the Journal of the American Medical Assn. (July 24, 2001), nonsmokers are harmed by even brief exposure to passive smoke. This issue is not about taking away people's right to smoke, but about protecting the health and safety of others.

Quite simply, when one's preference to smoke is a matter of life and death to another, support of public health must come first.

It is to be hoped that as the public is better educated, cities will have the courage to step forward and do the right thing.

Ellen Walcutt

Costa Mesa

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