Staff editorials: From heart... to heart

From heart...

Following in the footsteps of recent laws in New York and Montgomery County, Md., legislators in D.C. are developing plans to ban smoking at bars, clubs and restaurants. An alternate bill would not impose a ban, but would offer tax breaks to establishments that go smokeless.

This week, the D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics will decide whether or not to include the subject on November's ballot. If the stricter law is passed, violators will be fined $100 for the first offense and $1,000 for subsequent offenses.

The smoke-free law has positive and negative implications, which follow a national trend of public health-consciousness. Smoking sections in restaurants keep out the fumes for some customers, but if you sit close enough to smokers it doesn't make much of a difference. With the ban, asthmatics and others medically affected by cigarette, pipe and cigar smoke would be able to eat and drink with far greater ease.

However, there are some negative implications to this proposed law as well. If smoking is banned in bars, clubs and restaurants, where will it be banned next? If the country is heading toward a total ban on smoking, it would be an unreasonable encroachment by the government on the lives and choices of individuals. After all, history has shown the disastrous effects of Prohibition - and it is logical that a ban on smoking may have negative effects. Additionally, smoking in bars is an established part of American culture, and although that culture might be changing, an outright ban may be an abrupt and ineffective step toward greater public health.

A ban on public smoking needs to be considered by all people who will be affected by it. Concerned citizens should be able to vote on the matter before any such law is considered or enacted. That way, the air around the change would be easier to breathe for everyone.

... to heart

There are two types of people on Valentine's Day. The first are those who quietly anticipate the holiday with foreboding and a trembling wallet. The second are those who pretend to be unaware of its existence or damn it as a Hallmark-created, consumerist monstrosity. Why are there such tremendous discrepancies between the two perceptions?

In the third century CE, Christian couples were banned from marriage because men had more important duties, such as fighting wars. This prohibition wasn't very popular and one rogue priest named Valentine covertly married Christian couples. For this offense, he was sentenced to death. But true to form, Valentine fell in love with his jailer's daughter, and before his death he wrote her a love letter, signed, "From your Valentine." His jailer wasn't very enthusiastic about the note and may have been the first (but not the last) to break a Valentine's heart.

In an odd way, The Eagle feels a sense of solidarity with St. Valentine. While The Eagle is not currently ordained or incarcerated, it is poor and has limited means to express its love for significant others, like its readers. So, in the spirit of Valentine's Day, we've decided to remind our readers about the lessons of the famous prisoner of love.

If you have a significant other, don't try to do something really expensive like buying season tickets for your boyfriend or purchasing 10,000 roses for your girlfriend. There are other ways to express your love. Write a note. Make some dinner. Let your loved one sleep in.

If you're without a significant other, don't despair. There are plenty of people worthy of your thoughts and good deeds. Start with your single friends and then move on to siblings and even Mom!

So, if you're worried about going into debt or planning on ignoring Saturday, don't despair. This Valentine's Day, don't let your bank account go into the red - let Hallmark do that.

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