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Ban Smoking, But Don't Touch My Cell Phone or Soda

Most Americans think it’s all right for Big Brother to crack down on smokers, but he better keep his hands off their cell phones and their sodas.

With concern growing over the health implications of secondary smoke, 62% of adults say there should be a nationwide ban on smoking in all public places, according to a new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey. Thirty-three percent (33%) disagree, and five percent (5%) are not sure.

Just 38% of adults, however, support a complete ban on the use of cell phones while driving. Fifty-eight percent (58%) support the alternative of letting drivers use hands-free phones in their vehicles, and four percent (4%) are not sure which is the better option.

Seventy percent (70%) of Americans also oppose a national tax on all non-diet soft drinks. Eighteen percent (18%) like the idea of a so-called “obesity tax” like the one proposed by New York Governor David Paterson. Twelve percent (12%) are undecided.

Republicans, who usually frown on government restrictions, are more emphatic about the need for a nationwide smoking ban than Democrats, 66% to 59%. Sixty-one percent (61%) of those not affiliated with either party agree.

Sixty-four percent (64%) of whites favor such a ban, compared to 50% of African-Americans.

In mid-December, 22% of U.S. voters said the federal government should outlaw tobacco smoking.

Americans age 50 and older are much more supportive of a ban on cell phone use while driving than younger adults.

Income is a factor, too. Just 41% of those who earn under $20,000 per year support the use of hands-free phones, a view shared by twice as many of those who earn over $100,000 annually. Support for a complete ban on cell phone usage while driving drops dramatically as income level rises.

Last September, just over half of adults (53%) said people shouldn’t be allowed to talk on their cell phone and drive at the same time, but 39% disagreed.

Younger Americans are far more opposed to a national tax on all non-diet soft drinks. Eighty percent (80%) of those ages 18-29 don’t like the idea, compared to 55% of those 65 and older.

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