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Minnesota Statewide Smoking Ban Proposal

The Star Tribune article, “Legislature takes up statewide smoking ban,� is about the smoking ban that the Minnesota Legislature proposed today. The article states that the ban would take effect on Aug. 1, and it would prohibit smoking in most public places with the exception of Indian casinos, hotel rooms, and tobacco shops. Business owners would be criminally charged if they do not enforce the ban, and smokers would be asked to leave or get arrested if they do not adhere to the ban. The ban is supported because of the dangers of second-hand smoke, but others oppose the ban because it can hurt business revenue and they believe that the government should not interfere with private businesses. The link to this article is http://www.startribune.com/587/story/959802.html The lead is not constructed of a simple sentence because it begins with an introductory clause. However, the sentence does conclude with the standard subject-verb-object order. The writer uses the passive voice rather than the active voice when he writes, “…a proposal for a virtual statewide ban on smoking in public places was introduced in the Minnesota Legislature today.� Also, the lead is fairly long because it contains a total of 29 words. The lead does emphasize and summarize the main news that the legislature proposed a statewide ban today; however, the information about the advocates predicting that the ban will be passed could have been in another paragraph to limit detail in the lead. Also, the introductory clause is not neutral to both sides of the debate because it says, “With advocates predicting its best chance for passage in years…�. The lead does not say anything about the opponents’ view.
The Pioneer Press also covered the smoking ban proposal in the article, “Smoking ban to ignite state debate.� This article was shorter, and the writer broke up the article into several different sections that were devoted to the topics of how the ban works, places that can remain smoking areas, the good effects, the bad effects, and a link to the bill. This lead is shorter because it contains 17 words. The lead does summarize the important news that the legislature introduced the statewide smoking ban; however, the lead is written in the future tense instead of in the more appropriate past tense. The link to this article is http://www.twincities.com/mld/twincities/news/16538859.htm.
In my opinion, both of the leads are successful because they tell the most important information that the smoking ban was proposed. However, I think both the leads could be improved. The Star Tribune lead should have excluded the introductory clause to limit detail and words, as well as to keep the standard simple sentence with the subject-verb-object order. Also, I think that only stating the advocates’ opinion was not fair, and that it set the tone that the ban has a great chance of passing. The article had one source, but I think it should have included one opposing source to make the sides balanced. The Pioneer Press lead was short, but it should have been written in the past tense, or been updated, because the ban had already been introduced when the reader is reading the article. I liked that both the articles explained the ban and included both sides of the issue. I liked that The Pioneer Press used the stack of blocks story shape because it made the information very easy to quickly read and understand, and I liked that it included a link to the bill. I liked The Star Tribune article because it was more in-depth, mentioned the other proposal of prohibiting people to smoke within 50 feet of a public entrance, included a source and a quote, and stated that there are other counties and states that have the ban.