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Dentist wants to make Possession of cigarettes in Washington a Felony

MyNorthwest (Dec. 6, 2011) - The health risks of cigarettes have been taught in schools and printed on the cigarette packages for decades. There is a statewide ban preventing people from lighting up in public places. Now, one dentist would like to prevent you from even holding a cigarette in the state of Washington.

"I care about people's health," said Dr. Ed Dolan, who is behind the cigarette ban initiative. "I'm hoping that this will help all of the citizens of Washington state live longer, healthier, happier lives and eliminate the diseases, pain and suffering caused by tobacco products."

Such a law, if it came in to existence, would likely illicit a lot of resistance from those who believe taking away their right to smoke is a violation of their civil liberties. So Dolan compares it to the seat belt law - a law that yes, infringes on civil liberties, but significantly increases the average life expectancy of someone living in Washington.

"I'm purely thinking about it from a health standpoint," Dolan told 97.3 KIRO FM's Dori Monson Show. He says he's sure the law will help save the lives of people who are currently smoking, and hopefully prevent future generations from shortening their lifespans.

If the sale of cigarettes is outlawed, and even the mere possession of cigarettes were to become a class C felony, as his petition proposes, Dolan does acknowledge that it treads on a slippery slope. When Dori suggested that if cigarettes are outlawed, then red meat and alcohol could be next, Dolan said he's not sure about what could happen regarding health concerns and laws.

For him, it's about the people affected by smoking related diseases and their families. He needs 300,000 signatures to get his initiative on the ballot.

By: Alyssa Kleven, Editor