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Letters to the Editor
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Regarding “Smokescreen” by Richard R. DiPirro:

I had the “pleasure” of living in a large city when a similar “partial smoking ban” came into being. It caused a lot of problems for smokers and non-smokers, and owners. The ban worked for those restaurateurs who actually considered the goal of the law and did not try to find a way to re-interpret it or bend the law to please their smoking clientele.

Basically those that banned smoking profited by following the law and asking smokers to take it outside, those that tried to find ways around the ambiguities, alienated non-smoking customers and made very costly mistakes that ultimately destroyed their businesses.

This new Smoking Ban should have been an all or nothing deal, just like the ones in workplaces. That was what they finally had to do in the city when the partial ban caused mayhem. Basically, many Restaurant/Bar owners thought they would lose money if they did not allow smoking (or some who were smokers themselves took it personally).

Many went out of business when they

tried to circumvent the smoking ban and re-label themselves as a “bar.” They started turning away minors who wanted to eat. Smokers and non-smokers alike were affected.

Later a full smoking ban came into place because of the mess of not having a full ban. What ended up happening then, was what should have happened from the start: so many more people who wouldn’t go out at all when smoking was allowed started going out. They far outnumbered the smokers.

Many businesses at that point were even able to expand or open second locations due to the extra profit. And smokers did not stop going out, either. They simply adapted like they had to at work - by taking their cigarettes outside for smoking breaks - and that was in minus 30 degree weather - so I think we could easily adapt to that here in Savannah.

Some places added chairs or tables outdoors to accommodate smokers having a smoke break while they went out clubbing or dined out.

Your article illuminated another problem with the smoking issue: many restaurant owners don’t realize that it isn’t just the polluted air that bothers many non-smokers. It is also pretty repulsive to some people to pay $200 or more for dinner and be sitting there trying to avoid looking at the “plate of dirt” (dirty ashtrays) on the tables nearby, or the disgusting ashes falling everywhere as smokers puff away.

This is especially a problem in places where the tables are close together or highly visible to one another, or where the bar is in the middle of things.

And just because people don’t complain about smoke doesn’t mean they have not had a bad experience with smoking in a restaurant. Some people simply don’t return to that restaurant and choose smoke-free ones instead.

Restaurant and bar owners have to understand that non-smokers are an important part of their clientele, instead of worrying that they’ll lose business if they make their establishments non-smoking. They need to find ways to accept that we now live in a world where people are more health-conscious, where we thankfully have the technology to know what causes fatal diseases so we can take steps to avoid these dangers.

And owners should look at the large cities across this country. Many have adopted smoking bans, and restaurants have not lost business. Far from it. If anything, many new customers have come out of the woodwork because they know they can dine out without the annoyance of seeing or smelling smoke. And more importantly, their smoking customers have adapted by smoking outdoors or cutting back on how much they smoke when they’re out.

So, I don’t think it’s such a big deal to ask smokers - who are already living in a smoke-free world for the most part - to have the same consideration for others who don’t want to share their habit.

All in all, the smoking ban is a good thing for all. But it should not be partial. It should be an all-out ban for all indoor places, because we are talking about people’s lives here. This is not like the annoyance of watching someone chew gum with their mouth open.

Fact is, smoking kills. Most people know of at least one person who has died of cancer. So it’s not that unreasonable to eliminate smoking indoors entirely.

No one ever should have to risk their health to see a great band or enjoy dinner out. No one should ever have to pay money to have a drink that comes with no option for unpolluted air.

T.A. Smith



Mass confusion surrounds our tax code and is beginning to stimulate the debate to reform our tax system.

What we need is a fair, simple, transparent tax system that any American can understand at a glance; a new tax system that would end late-night sweating over endless forms. We need a system that won't hide the tax burden in the cost of goods and services; a system that will allow working people to take home their entire paychecks.

We need a tax system that will eliminate post-April 15 anxiety over whether we will be one of the unlucky 34 million people who are assessed a civil penalty by the IRS each year or who receives the dreaded audit notices.

There is one plan that can do all that: the FairTax, a bi-partisan bill sponsored by Rep. John Linder (R-GA) and Rep. Collin Peterson (D-MN). Take a minute and check out

Mike Dickson



The Green Hummer Project has come to a conclusion. No longer will our full-size, pedal-powered SUV roam the streets of Savannah. Our 25th and last ride was on Earth Day, April 22nd, through the Southside.

While designed just for the G8 Summit last June, the Green Hummer rolled far longer than any of us expected. The Green Hummer withstood two beatings, many bent wheels, and burned a lot of calories riding more than 150 miles in 11 months. The project was a lot of work, a ton of smiles and a little

bit of heartache.

As the project leader, I would like to thank all of the people who have helped the Green Hummer Project. Many people made its construction and propulsion possible. I would also like to thank the courteous drivers we encountered, the curious pedestrians who stopped to talk, and all of the G8 security personnel and Savannah police officers who made sure we were legal and safe.

I would especially like to thank Patrick Crowley for his web site design and Jarrod Hollar and Danyelle Walicki for their many contributions to the project as a whole.

The web site chronicling the rides and crew of the project,, will stay up perpetually. Keep watching for our next project.

Stephen Horcha