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WEDNESDAY, APRIL 19, 2006
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EDITORIAL

Thank you, Applebee's, for going smoke-free

The decision by Applebee's Neighborhood Grill & Bar to declare the Beltline Road restaurant smoke-free offers insight into how non-smokers might expand the public places where they are safe from the hazards of secondhand smoke.

Applebee's, faced with customer complaints and possible building modifications, decided to ban smoking.

That, to be sure, is good news to people who are allergic to tobacco smoke and those who fear developing lung cancer as a result of breathing the toxic air.

The city's smoking ordinance says most restaurants and other public buildings must provide designated places for smokers and must adequately ventilate the area to keep the smoke from drifting.

But the city's enforcement is lax. It took complaints to the health department to trigger enforcement at Applebee's.

Nobody should have the right to sit down in a public restaurant, light up, and blow smoke toward the patrons seated at the next table.

Restaurants that can't guarantee patrons seated in non-smoking areas that the smoke will not reach them should follow Applebee's example.

But it took customer complaints to the health department to get the restaurant smoke-free. Perhaps more complaints would get greater compliance.

People have a right to smoke. They should also have safeguards that adequately shield them from secondhand smoke and the plumes from burning cigarettes.

We applaud Applebee's decision to ban smoking. It's the right thing to do in a public place where everyone is at risk from secondhand smoke.

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