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Other voices: Another ban on tobacco?

Cumberland County Health Director Buck Wilson wants to clear the air a little more than he already has. That smells sweet to us.

Wilson has spearheaded a long-running drive to ban smoking on county-owned properties. The bans riled smokers but gave the nonsmoking majority a breath of fresh air — and a helpful hand in staying healthy, which is what the bans are about. The deadly effects of second-hand smoke are thoroughly documented and a compelling reason to forbid people from lighting up in public.

Smoking is banned on all county properties — even the parking lots — and vehicles, except for the Crown Complex and parks and recreation facilities. Wilson wants to drop those exceptions and ban smoking there too, even in open-air park settings. And he wants to ban smoking in all offices, retail and commercial places where the public is allowed.

County Commissioner Jimmy Keefe points out that Cumberland ranks 73rd among the state’s 100 counties in health measures and needs to do better.

The county should expand the smoking bans, and it should have company. Fayetteville, where most of those businesses are located, should join in the ban. We all deserve clean air.

— Fayetteville Observer

Drop the box

A criminal history, even one that was brief and happened in a person’s youth, follows someone the rest of his or her life. The record is always there, and the Internet makes it all the easier for anyone to delve into someone’s past. But should local governments require job seekers to check a box on applications “yes” or “no” on criminal convictions other than traffic violations? Raleigh and Durham do not have such boxes, and now Wake County is ready to join them. That’s as it should be.

For one thing, background checks will continue to be conducted, and obviously criminal histories would show up there. And savvy job applicants are going to get in front of such checks anyway and tell prospective employers in government about their past problems.

“Past” is the important term here. Many people might have had problems in their youth they’ve overcome, and that road to redemption has made them better people. They might be outstanding workers, determined to do their best. It’s not fair that those people should begin the application process with something that makes them and their possible employers uncomfortable. A criminal history is best explained at length, not in a check on a box on an application form.

The de-emphasis on this kind of thing is a positive development for all.

— The News & Observer, Raleigh

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