How Cranberry Mall Cleared the Air CARROLL COUNTY

April 27, 1993

The evidence is in: Tobacco fumes have been judged potentially lethal to smoker and non-smoker alike.

A growing body of scientific study has confirmed this finding. The most damning statistics appeared in a recent report by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which said "secondary smoke" causes 3,000 lung cancer deaths among non-smokers and up to 300,000 cases of bronchitis and pneumonia in children annually.

Politicians and merchants, as fearful of liability lawsuits as they are concerned about public health, have begun heeding the signals. An increasing number of local laws are being passed to prohibit public smoking in many areas, even as more businesses are voluntarily restricting smoking on their premises.

The shopping mall, the modern version of Main Street U.S.A., has not been immune to this trend. The managers of Towson Town Center, for example, just announced smoking won't be permitted in most sections of that Baltimore County mall beginning May 17.

That makes Towson Town Center the second mall in the state to impose its own smoking restrictions without being required to do so by government edict.

The first? Cranberry Mall in Westminster.

A Cranberry official says the decision came in response to customer requests. Initially, mall managers felt that an outright ban on smoking would have been extreme, so two areas of the mall were set aside for smokers. However, the areas have been so little used that one was later made smoke-free, leaving a single location where people can light up without putting non-smokers at risk.

The response from customers and retailers has been very positive, the official adds. While the smoking restrictions may or may not be a contributing factor, shoppers are spending more time in the mall these days. That's good for business. And the cleaner air is good for everybody.

Smokers protest that such bans violate their rights. But in a democracy, one's right to a certain practice ends when that practice threatens another person's well-being. It's clear now that smoking harms non-smokers, not to mention the smokers themselves. These restrictions make good sense.

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