January 12, 2004
Forty years ago, the FDA was telling
the public that cigarettes were bad.
Thirty years ago, students at some universities
could sit in class and smoke without issue.
Twenty years ago, a study was underway
to determine whether some cigarettes were healthier than others.
Their results included:
- "The risk of lung cancer was no different in people who smoked
medium tar cigarettes, low tar cigarettes, or very low tar cigarettes
- "Men and women who smoked non-filtered cigarettes with tar
ratings 22 mg had even higher risks of lung cancer.
- "All current smokers, regardless
of the tar level of their current brand, had substantially greater
risks of lung cancer than those people who had never smoked or who
had quit smoking"
Ten years ago, California began putting
significant restrictions on where cigarette smokers were allowed
"In California, where the 1994
law took effect in stages, restaurants went smoke-free in 1995.
Bars, taverns and casinos followed in 1998. After the legislation
passed, there were repeated attempts over five years to convince
legislators it should be changed, Glantz said. Yet, efforts to get
the law repealed have been unsuccessful."
Last month, the issue was in the news
from coast to coast.
In the Northwest:
"King County was scared off by legal questions. Puyallup backed
down after opposition from the tobacco industry. Now Pierce County
has decided to do what no community in Washington has done: ban
smoking in all indoor, public places, including bars, taverns, restaurants
and bowling alleys."
In the Northeast:
"Smoking ban makes 2004 a fresher start
Beginning tomorrow [January 1,
2004], more Mainers can breath easier, especially if they are hanging
out -- or working -- at a saloon or even a pool hall."
In the same article which informs you
that you can no longer smoke in public locations in Maine, you are
given many reasons why these laws have been implemented:
- "Consider the following information from U.S. and Canadian
- "Two-thirds of smoke from a cigarette is not inhaled by the
smoker, but enters the air around the smoker.
- "Second-hand smoke has at least twice the nicotine and tar
as the smoke inhaled by the smoker.
- "Second-hand smoke is a complex mix of more than 4,000 substances,
at least 42 of which are known to cause cancer in humans and animals,
and many more of which are strong irritants.
- "Regular exposure to second-hand smoke increases the chances
of contracting lung disease by 25 percent and heart disease by 10
- "Second-hand smoke is the third-ranking known cause of lung
cancer after active smoking and indoor radon.
- "Second-hand smoke ranks third as a major preventable cause
of death behind only active smoking and alcohol.
- "Second-hand smoke aggravates symptoms in people with allergies
and asthma, and can cause eye, nose and throat irritations, headaches,
dizziness, nausea, coughing and wheezing in otherwise healthy people.
- "Children have a higher metabolism and can absorb higher amounts
of smoke than adults.
- "Infants and children exposed to second-hand smoke are more
likely to suffer chronic respiratory illness, impaired lung function,
middle-ear infections, food allergies and can even succumb to sudden
infant death syndrome.
- "Electronic air-cleaning systems would need to increase the
air-exchange rate a thousand fold to be effective -- resulting in
- "And the list goes on...."
Those who have been alive for this progression
"There was a time when the decision
of whether to permit smoking in enclosed public places or in enclosed
workplaces was primarily an issue of balancing smokers convenience
with the potential annoyance to nonsmokers. One reasonable, if not
always effective, way to accommodate everyone was to have smoking
and nonsmoking sections in restaurants, for example. This situation
radically changed in the late 1980s as research on the health effects
of second-hand tobacco smoke piled up. If even limited exposure
to second-hand smoke could cause an asthmatic child to be hospitalized
and consistent exposure could cause lung cancer and heart disease
in nonsmokers, the convenience versus annoyance calculation had
to be superceded by a public health calculation."
As these laws gradually enter the books
across the country, there are still those who do not want you to
forget that this is not a one-sided issue--and it is not just smokers
who are against the new laws.
"The Illinois Restaurant Association
has always opposed a government mandated smoking ban. The decision
should be available for the individual restaurant operators and
customers who patronize a restaurant, to be smoke free or allow
smoking in specific areas. As an association of employers and business
owners, the Illinois Restaurant Association is well aware how important
it is to maintain a healthy workforce and cater to the wishes of
our customers. In fact, the market has demanded an increasing level
of restrictions on smoking. In recent years, the amount of non-smoking
seats in Chicago restaurants and fully smoke-free restaurants has
dramatically increased. Nearly all private office buildings are
now smoke-free. The market, with the assistance of effective education
campaigns, has created a strong anti-smoking bias, but we do not
believe a total ban on smoking in most public places, and particularly
in restaurants, is warranted....According to a report from KPMG
on behalf of the American Beverage Institute, a majority of establishments
(59.3%) experienced a decrease in business when the smoking ban
went into effect in California. The average decline in sales was
26.2%. In addition, the City will receive less revenue from the
decline of liquor sales normally associated with smoking bans."
Even those who argue that it is a business
issue, and not just a health issue, are on both sides.
"Multnomah County loses $277 million
annually due to tobacco-related problems, including health care
costs and lost productivity, according to Oregon Health Division
statistics. The health division also reports that 32 percent of
county workers are exposed to secondhand tobacco smoke at work.
At least 43 percent of the county's food-service workers were exposed
to secondhand smoke while working, according to a 1998 survey. These
statistics and others on the dangers of secondhand smoke in the
workplace helped convince the Board of Multnomah County Commissioners,
the county's public health authority, to adopt Ordinance 937, which
requires most workplaces in the county to be smoke-free."
Questions of the Week:
Who should decide whether or not smoking is to be permitted in indoor
public places? Should it be a legal issue, a business issue, a health
issue, or a combination of issues? What information should be taken
into account when making these decisions? What are the laws where
you live? What choices do you have as a patron? What choices do
local business owners have? How can the choices that you make as
a patron affect the decisions of the business owners and the lawmakers?
Please email me with any ideas or suggestions.
Note: Due to increasing amounts of SPAM sent to this account, please include "QOW" in the subject line when sending me email.
I look forward to reading
what you have to say.
Health Community Coordinator
Access Excellence @ the National Health Museum