To the editor:
As a career counselor to many young people in the Lawrence public schools, I find the thinking of many people opposing a comprehensive smoke-free policy for our city hard to follow. I've worked with hundreds of young people to help them find work in our community. It may come as a surprise to those people who casually say, "If you don't like it there, quit," that jobs in Lawrence are very hard to come by.
This elitist notion on the part of spokespeople for the hospitality industry that the 75 percent of Lawrence residents who don't smoke should simply patronize one or two restaurants or bars in town and eat in fast-food joints, or that young people can somehow pick and choose where they work so that a small minority of smokers can foul the air for the rest of us is difficult to swallow.
It is the responsibility of our elected officials to assure that ALL workplace settings in our community are safe for ALL people, whether they work in offices, bars or factories. The choice for many young people in Lawrence now is not between working in places that are healthy or not healthy. It is between working and not working. By not having a uniform smoke-free policy that doesn't distinguish between work settings, the city of Lawrence creates further barriers for many young people starting out in the work world.