The state Supreme Court gave local health boards the proverbial "early Christmas present" this week with its ruling on indoor smoking.
In the decision, the justices gave local health officials throughout West Virginia the power to ban smoking in most indoor public places; the exceptions being bingo halls and personal care homes. The court backed its ruling by noting that local health officials had already been given the power of regulating indoor air by the Legislature.
It seems only logical.
After all, consider a few statistics from the American Lung Association: Secondhand smoke -- defined as the "smoke given off by the burning end of a cigarette, pipe or cigar and the smoke exhaled from the lungs of smokers" -- causes an estimated 3,000 lung cancer deaths and 35,000 heart-disease deaths each year. In addition, secondhand smoke contains more than 4,000 substances, more than 40 of which have been identified as carcinogens.
Shouldn't health officials be permitted to control the exposure of local residents to such a mixture? Of course they should.
The battle cry of some smokers who claim it's their "right" to smoke "whenever and wherever" has grown increasingly weak.
We won't argue that they have the "right" to smoke. But when their habit affects others, it becomes a dangerous imposition.
And that's nobody's "right."