To the Editor:
Feb. 1 will mark the fifth anniversary of the day Maryland’s Clean Indoor Law went into effect, banning the smoking of tobacco products inside the state’s restaurants, bars and other public places.
Similar laws have been enacted in other states and — as has been the case in Maryland — predictions that the law would bring economic hardship to businesses have proved unfounded.
Smoking remains a part of American culture, and it is common to see smokers outside these places in areas that have been designated for the purpose.
Owners of some businesses who feared they would lose customers with the advent of the no-smoking law have said their customer base actually expanded.
Restaurateurs in particular say the prospect of cleaner air has brought in more people, and they no longer hesitate to bring their children. It has especially been a boon to those who have breathing difficulties.
The effort to ban indoor smoking in Maryland’s public places took more than 30 years to succeed and was opposed by considerable lobbying, particularly from the tobacco industry.
It was initiated by various individuals and organizations, including the Maryland Group Against Smoker’s Pollution (MDGASP, one of the most appropriate acronyms we have run across).
Marylanders, like other American citizens, are still allowed to smoke, providing they are of age and do it in places where it is allowed.
Some people would like to ban smoking altogether, but that probably would be met by results similar to what happened after passage of Prohibition, the 18th Amendment that enacted a nationwide ban on alcohol: increased demand for booze and growth of the organized crime that sprang up to meet that demand. Best to educate people against the practice, starting when they are young. It’s a deadly habit.
Maryland’s Clean Indoor Air Law is one example of a law that was passed with good intentions and — despite warnings to the contrary — accomplished precisely what was intended.