Should government butt in?

As widespread as antismoking sentiment in America has become - fanned by those who link the habit to health problems - the smell of cigarette smoke still lingers at a fair number of workplaces.

Should it, legally speaking?

To ask that question is to strike a match under a sheaf of arguments filled with references to the rights of smokers and nonsmokers alike.

But even at companies with some smoking restrictions (most companies), problems with enforcement sometimes arise.

The workplace is inherently tougher to police than airplanes or restaurants, two places where smoking is now tightly controlled. Employees feel more proprietary about their workspaces than they do about public areas.

Still, stringent rules concerning some other workplace issues - sexual harassment, for example, or even ergonomics - seem to get teeth put in them pretty fast, once a study comes out confirming the scope of the problem.

Why won't the smoke clear?

Critics blame everything from Big Tobacco to human nature to a patchwork quilt of loophole-laden regulations.

Today's lead story explores, in part, a move by one group to get the federal government to ban workplace smoking.

File this one under summer-story synergy: On page 13, we use the start of the blockbuster-movie season as a reason to assess new opportunities for investors in the entertainment sector, powering along, as it does in any economy.

Three pages on, we delve into a "satisfaction index" that gauges consumer perceptions of different industries. On top: moviemakers. We like what we're seeing.

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(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Monitor

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