Smokers in Miami have been outnumbered by an overwhelming opposition in the polls.
According to the Associated Press, a new amendment that bans smoking in all restaurants and most other enclosed work environments passed in Florida with a majority of 71 percent of the votes this past week.
According to media sources, the petition was brought to the ballot by members of the Florida chapters of the American Cancer Society, American Lung Association and the American Heart Association.
“It’s going to save lives. You’re going to have people who will not be sick in the future,” said Martin Larsen, chairman of the Smoke-Free for Health campaign in an interview with NBC.
Recently, the new amendment has raised controversy among smokers and non-smokers at UM.
Many non-smokers voiced their relief that the law was passed.
“When I go out I don’t want to have to worry about health issues,” senior Beth Superfine said. “If I make a choice not to smoke, why should I have to worry about getting emphysema from someone else’s secondhand smoke?”
Senior Ann Marie Madura, who signed the petition to get the smoking amendment on the ballot, also expressed her satisfaction with the new ban.
“I’m very happy it got passed because I don’t like eating and smelling smoke after,” Madura said. “I know they say bars and smoke go hand and hand, but why should I have to deal with it? People can stand outside the bar and smoke.”
“It doesn’t matter if there’s a smoking or non-smoking section,” said junior and advocate of the amendment, Selma Benitez. “Air travels.”
Other students held much contempt for the new restrictions, citing issues of personal rights, government intrusion and the economic impact such limitations could have on local business.
“It’s going to ruin things for half the people in clubs. When you have a drink in your hand, you want a cigarette,” sophomore Mary Jo Morales said.
Morales also felt it would be difficult and detrimental to enforce such laws in clubs and bars in Miami.
“Do you know how much money they’ll lose? They sell a pack of cigarettes in those clubs for seven dollars,” Morales said. “It’s like if they banned alcohol.”
Senior David D’Ambrosio shared the same sentiments.
“How can you not smoke in bars? Drinking and smoking go hand in hand,” he said.
“It’s a sign of the times,” junior Stephanie O’Banion said. “There could have been a way of separating smokers from non-smokers, instead of just not letting us smoke. I’m definitely not going to go out to eat as much anymore.”
Another advocate of the new restrictions, senior Jeanne Valois, said:
“The choice to smoke should not interfere with the non-smoker’s choice for an environment free of cigarette smoke.”
Senior Sharon Geuthers lived in Los Angeles, CA for a number of years. California was the first state to implement non-smoking laws much like the ones being imposed in Miami.
“People complained for so long, but you’ll be amazed at how nice it is to go into a bar that’s smoke-free. After a while, you’ll get used to it,” Geuthers said.
In response to claims that the amendment was passed unjustly, Geuthers replied, “The smokers should’ve gone out to vote if they cared so much because the vote was passed by a huge majority. They knew this was going to be a big amendment.”
According to reports from the Associated Press, exceptions to the ban will be made for “stand-alone bars,” specified hotel rooms and some home businesses fitting criteria as stated in the amendment.
The new legislation is set to take effect in July 2003.
Whitney W. Friedrich can be contacted at email@example.com.