He says bill is a painful undertaking for some, but necessary to prevent deaths
Christian Action League
Legislation that would ban smoking in all enclosed public places or places of employment (HB 2) was taken up by the House Judiciary I Committee on Tuesday.
Lawmakers heard from North Carolina’s new State Health Director, Dr. Jeffrey Engel, and the head of Chronic Disease from the Department of Public Health, Dr. Marcus Plescia. Both physicians shared the science concerning the dangers of second-hand smoke and strongly urged lawmakers to approve the measure.
Plescia noted an estimate by North Carolina’s largest health insurer, Blue Cross Blue Shield that reports statewide health cost from second-hand smoke are about $289 million a year.
Chairwoman, Rep. Deborah Ross (D-Wake) and legislative staff directed the committee line by line through the bill. Many questions were asked by those opposed to the measure and each question was sufficiently addressed.
The meeting concluded with two speakers from the public. Dallas Woodhouse of Americans for Prosperity spoke against the bill. Woodhouse contended that the legislation was unnecessary because its objective could already be reached by private business owners and they were already doing it. “We don’t need the coercion of government,” he advocated. Woodhouse said despite the passionate pleas of the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Hugh Holliman (D-Davidson), he still believes the bill is about the violation of people’s property rights.
Rev. Mark Creech, executive director of the Christian Action League was the final speaker for the meeting. Rev. Creech made the following remarks in favor of the legislation:
“Ladies and Gentlemen of the Committee, my name is Rev. Mark Creech and I am the executive director of the Christian Action League.
For years, the opening of the Wide World of Sports television program illustrated the “agony of defeat” with a painful ending to an attempted ski jump. The skier appeared in good form as he headed down the jump, but then, for no apparent reason, he tumbled head over heels again and again off the side of the jump bouncing off the supporting structure.
What viewers didn’t know was that he chose to fall rather than finish the jump. As he explained later, the jump surface had become too fast, and midway down the ramp, he realized if he completed the jump, he would land on the level ground, beyond the safe sloping landing area, which would have been fatal.
As it was, the skier suffered no more than a headache from the tumble.
To change course in life can be a dramatic and sometimes painful undertaking, but change is often better than a fatal landing at the end.
It goes without saying that the measure before you today would be a significant change in our treatment of tobacco in North Carolina. Nevertheless, today we know more than we used to know about smoking. Now we know that not only does tobacco injure – even kill the person who chooses it – but it kills many who choose not to use it.
This knowledge morally obligates us to change course. Dr. Richard Land, president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, of which the Christian Action League is an affiliate, recent wrote:
‘Mr. Holliman’s bill will help protect people who cannot avoid being exposed to second-hand smoke as they move about in public. This commitment to public health is commendable. It does not prevent people from smoking if they choose to do so, but it helps to protect others from the effects of their harmful choices. Many people will live longer, healthier lives as a result.’
This indeed is the change we need to make and it is thoroughly consistent with the command of Christ, to love our neighbor and to do unto others as we would have them do unto us. Granted, this change from some is a painful undertaking. But we would do better to suffer what is likely to amount to nothing more than a cultural headache, than for others to have a fatal landing at the end.”
A vote on the bill in Committee was held over until Tuesday, March 24. During the next meeting, further debate, discussion, and proposed amendments are expected.