Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Let's hear it for carrots

This has been an exceptional week for carrots. First, lawmakers in Virginia decided to curb restaurant patrons’ exposure to cigarette smoke by leading consumers to places that voluntarily ban it, instead of ordering all establishments to snuff out the butts. A bill approved yesterday in one chamber of the state’s legislature would require places that permit smoking to post a sign forewarning customers of the proprietor’s choice. Proponents believe the measure will clear the air of more restaurants by giving them a business incentive to prohibit smoking.

Now comes word that Los Angeles County is trying to purge trans fats from the kitchens of its restaurants by offering a marketing incentive to places that voluntarily yank the heart clogger from their recipes. Under an agreement brokered by the local restaurant association, places that eliminate trans fats will be given a decal they can post in their windows, certifying that the establishment is heart-friendly. The signs presumably will shape consumer behavior, which in turn will lead more restaurants to rid their places of the partially hydrogenated oils.

By making a certain “go” more attractive, both areas may be able to avoid the flat-out “no” of bans.

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