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Companies going tobacco-free

Published: Monday, Aug. 6, 2012 10:46 p.m. CST

My mom smoked all of her life. She tried quitting many times – with no success.

She had no problem with government's increasing restrictions on smoking. Her last 12 years, she smoked outdoors only, which means she kept her habit to a minimum, especially during the winter.

Recently, I interviewed Cathy Ferguson, the public health administrator at the Lee County Health Department. She told me about her agency's effort to discourage people from lighting up.

A number of area companies, she said, are now barring workers from smoking anywhere on their properties. Doing so, she said, limits their exposure to the bad habit. Maybe they'll even quit.

One of those firms is Sauk Valley Media, publisher of the Daily Gazette and Telegraph, which launched its tobacco-free policy July 15. As of Sept. 1, employees won't be allowed to smoke even in their personal cars while on company property.

I haven't heard any objections to those rules.

Years and years ago, my cousin said she refused to go to a restaurant that voluntarily banned smoking – even during times when she was trying to quit. She said no restaurant should tell her what to do.

In another area, I covered a city's effort to ban smoking in restaurants. The city council was divided over the issue. Some residents argued that veterans fought for freedom, and that included the freedom to smoke.

Others, however, argued that nonsmokers, especially children and restaurant employees, have the right to be free from secondhand smoke, which causes many of the same diseases as direct smoking, including lung cancer.

That argument obviously carried the day – across the country.

Sauk Valley Media reporter David Giuliani covers the Whiteside and Lee county governments, Morrison and other smaller communities. He can be reached at dgiuliani@saukvalley or at 800-798-4085, ext. 525.

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