What others are saying

December 15, 2006

Beginning Jan. 10, smoking in indoor workplaces in unincorporated Beaufort County will be prohibited. While three South Carolina cities have banned smoking, Beaufort is the first county to make smoking in the workplace, including bars and restaurants, illegal. ... [S]tate law prohibits cities and counties from banning smoking in private businesses such as bars and restaurants. But local governments feel an obligation to residents, especially nonsmokers, because the state government wouldn't enact a prohibition.

Many complain that the ban takes away their civil liberties and might hurt business for many proprietors, but the results in some states have been positive.

Bans in California, New York and Texas have proved to be positive experiences for customers, businesses and others who deal with a health-conscious community. ...

Communities are beginning to step up and do the tough work that the state legislature should be doing regulating smoking. The courts probably will determine whether the new laws are legal. State lawmakers have been quick to pre-file bills in anticipation of beginning the legislative year in January. They should seriously consider either a smoking ban in workplaces or making it legal for local governments to do so.

The state has an epidemic, and residents need protection.

- The Beaufort (South Carolina) Gazette

One of the items that caught our eye on the wires yesterday was the announcement of the results of a survey on the justice system and race relations in America that was issued by a Web site called BlackPlanet.com. It found that in the case of the killing of Sean Bell in Queens, 51percent of its respondents "feel that this is another example of the police profiling African-American men."

It wasn't the most definitive of surveys, but it caught our eye because it comes at a time when at least some protesters - and even members of the City Council - are raising the racism issue. Yet we would hazard a guess that when the Bell case is all sorted out, what it is going to show is something quite the opposite - such as just how complex these questions have become.

"We know that the shooting was not motivated by racism because we know that the officer who fired first was black," Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly said. ... That doesn't automatically exclude the possibility of tangential racism. But it underscores how the ground has shifted.

- The New York Sun

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