Hancock smoking plan needs tweeks

Updates to Hancock County’s smoking regulations has been a hot topic in recent weeks, with the county’s health board considering the possibility of completely abolishing the practice in all restaurants, gaming facilities, private clubs, sports arenas, places of employment and concert venues, as well as certain outdoor public places.

Essentially, it would ban smoking just about anywhere in the county, with the main exception being private residences.

Many have come out on both sides of the issue with some advocating such a policy out of health concerns and others speaking against out of concern for their business.

This is a “fine line” issue in many respects. On one hand, Hancock County hasn’t always ranked that well on a variety of national health surveys. Opportunities to improve the public health of the county’s residents should be considered. There are numerous studies on the dangers of smoking and second-hand smoke and their effect on one’s health.

On the other hand, veterans organizations, fire departments and some businesses are concerned about possibly losing thousands of dollars in revenue, not to mention some feelings expressed of over-reach by a government entity to regulate activities in a private business operation.

The fact is, some aspects of a total county wide ban will be difficult, if not impossible, to fully enforce. Adjustments will need to be made.

For its part, the health board has said it will possibly consider revisions at its May meeting. We encourage them to do so and hope they will give consideration to both sides of the argument before making any final decisions.