Secondhand Smoking


Secondhand Smoking Essay, Research Paper

“A blockbuster study published in the January issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) examined the impact of exposure to ETS on the progression of athersclerosis (hardening of the arteries) and concluded, in part, that the arteries of non-smokers exposed to ETS thickened 20% faster than non-smokers with no second-hand exposure” (JAMA).

Another study published in Pediatrics in January estimated that, “about half of the cases of early childhood cases of asthma, chronic bronchitis and wheezing are attributable to exposure to secondhand smoke” (JAMA).

Smoking in public areas such as bars and restaurants can be harmful to the health of not only the smoker himself, but everybody around him. Recent studies on the number of deaths as a result of smoking confirmed that eight out of ten people affected with diseases affiliated with smoking were a cause of second hand smoke. Laws are in the process of being passed to make certain places completely non-smoking.

Why should a person who has been careful about their health be subject to smoker’s health problems? Why should a family going out to dinner have to smell the smoke from someone else when the family has just as much right to be there as the smoker does? Isn’t there some way to compromise between the two? Won’t someone be unhappy no matter what the decision about banning smoking is? The fact is that everyone has the right to smoke if they want to; but there is no way that a non-smoker should be forced to inhale smoke that isn’t theirs. Although, won’t a restaurant lose a lot of business if they cut out the smoking sections?

The Institute for Social Research at York University for the Ontario Tobacco Research Unit at the University of Toronto performed a study on smoking attitudes and behaviors. First of all, “only 19% of Toronto adults smoke, 15% daily” (institute). The study proved that, “eight out of 10 smokers in Toronto say they would follow the rules if there were more restrictions on smoking, even without the threat of a fine. Only one in 10 smokers say they would ignore new restrictions” (institute). Half of the adults who go out to eat don’t go to the smoky restaurants or bars for that matter, but somewhere else. Only a quarter of all the non-smokers replied that they would not take a smoking table even if it was the last one in the restaurant (institute). This information was provided in 1996, when the institute interviewed 1,764 Ontario adults. Since then, certain actions have been taken to make restaurants and bars completely non-smoking.

A similar case occurred in California where a law has been passed prohibiting smoking in certain public places.

“The state law prohibits smoking in most enclosed workplaces including offices and restaurants. Gambling clubs, bars and taverns are exempt until January 1, 1998 or until state or federal regulatory agencies have set standards which limit the amount of smoke in these areas to such a level that is found to e safe, whichever comes first” (OCAT).

This law was soon passed and almost all restaurants and bars became non-smoking for the public.

An identical law was passed in New York called the Smoke-Free Act that banned smoking in almost all the restaurants in the city (OCAT). Erie County, NY banned smoking in open-air arenas, lobbies, and all enclosed places of employment. Also, bars must limit their smoking section to only 20% of the whole bar (OCAT). Limiting smoking in areas like bars and restaurants would lead to the assumption that the business will also be limited.

On the contrary though, “researchers at Cornell University found that a smokefree policy for restaurants attracts more business—and revenue—that it drives away” (Cornell). Contrary to belief, cutting out the smoking completely in some public places had a more economically beneficial effect rather than a harmful one. Smokers seem to be able to go smoke-free in public areas to comply with the non-smoker’s point of view. Researchers Stanton Glantz and Lisa R. A. Smith studied the economics of the no smoking laws and concluded that, “smoke-free ordinances do not adversely affect either restaurant or bar sales” (Glanz/Smith).

Lois Biener, Ph.D., from the University of Massachusetts Center for Survey Research in Boston, and Michael Siegel, M.D. M.P.H., from the Boston University School of Public Health, did a survey project in Massachusetts which confirmed the Glanz/Smith study. They observed almost 3,000 Massachusetts adults for a 10 month span of time and concluded that, “such policies [non-smoking laws] are likely to increase overall patronage of bars and restaurants” (Biener/Siegel). Their observations of the public proved that even though smokers were not allowed to smoke in public places, they still patronized bars and restaurants. The smokers along with the increased amount of non-smokers were enough to actually boost the profits of these places.

In the same study, “…nearly 40% of the respondents reported having avoided an establishment because of tobacco smoke” (Biener/Siegel). On the other hand, “only 8.5% of respondents reported having ever avoided going somewhere because smoking was not permitted” (Biener/Siegel). The majority seems to have a neutral attitude towards the new smoking laws. Furthermore, “ of the 32% of adults who do not presently frequent [go to] bars, 10% [120,000 people] stated that they would start going if smoking were eliminated” (Biener/Siegel). The same goes for eating out at restaurants whereas business would definitely increase with the diminishing of smoking. This is true because there would be all the new non-smokers plus the smokers who don’t mind the smoking laws. North Carolina was the first state to pass legislation about environmental smoke.

“Until recently, ordinances in many North Carolina counties provided protection from ETS exposure in workplaces and public places, including restaurants” (NCMS). The research indicated that the regulations had no adverse economic effect on the restaurant industry. “Even in the number one tobacco-producing state in the US, ETS regulations present no adverse economic impact, and there is no need for exceptions to the ordinances based on such fears. Now we must ask our legislators to muster the political will to enact such legislation” (NCMS).

North Carolina, tobacco king, even had good results from the non-smoking legislation. This is only fair to the non-smokers in the community and their health. Because of a few smokers in society, others are forced to breathe in smoke not healthy to them. These new laws coming about are to protect the rights of the public.

On the other hand, the tobacco industries are not happy with the newfound laws and are trying to back their argument with implying that business will go down if smoking in public places is outlawed. Of course, this is solely from the economic point of view of the tobacco producers. They thought that the laws would lose bartending jobs and they conducted a study to try to “critique” Dr. Glanz’s study. The Californian for Scientific Integrity (CSI) sued the University of California partly because of Dr. Glanz’s study. “The lawsuit alleged that public funds were used improperly in supporting the 1994 study” (Porfiri). The case was soon dismissed and a lawyer wrote, “The true agenda of this action was patently obvious—to muzzle scientists whose research publications and speech on subjects relating to tobacco, tobacco control and the politics of tobacco have been a thorn in the side of the tobacco industry for decades” (qtd. in Porfiri).

The tobacco companies basically look for any possible way to disprove non-smoking policies so that tobacco sale doesn’t go down. Dr. Glantz stated that, “…it just shows that with any bully, if you stand up to them, you can beat them” (Porfiri). He goes on to say basically that you need all the facts before you try to argue a point. The tobacco industry ignored all the facts about the health issues involved in the making of the laws.

Environmental tobacco smoke (ETS), second hand smoke, contains more than 4000 chemicals, 200 poisons, and 43 carcinogenic compounds. This deadly combination was declared a Class A carcinogen in 1992 along with asbestos, radon and benzene. It causes about 3000 lung cancer deaths a year and, even sadder, it causes heart disease in many non-smokers (EPA). All of these facts are obsolete in the tobacco companies eyes, since scientific evidence can harm sales for them.

Other organizations take the health risks into account in their formation and purpose. The Scientific Committee on Tobacco and Health is a group of scientific experts who are strongly against public smoking and have done a lot of research on the effects of smoking to back up their argument. This organization works closely with the Business Owners and Management Association (BOMA), which takes a stand for smoke-free office buildings due to the cleaning bills it promotes and mainly the health and fire risks it has on the employees. Through survey, they figured out that smoking was the leading cause in building fires for a while.

The Association for Non-smokers’ Rights has worked very hard in the last few years to pass legislation to outlaw public building smoking because of the second hand smoking risks and the prevention of young people getting addicted to tobacco. It seems as though everyone is getting involved in the prevention of public smoking and expressing their views on the subject.

A person can express their thoughts on a network called S.A.F.E (Smoke-free Air For Everyone). This site discusses heath risks and forms groups of people to get together to propose new legislation on the banning of this harmful activity. Other organizations against public smoking include the Southern Tier Tobacco Awareness Coalition formed in upstate New York and the Tobacco-Free Tri-Counties including Washington Counties and Oregon.

The fact is that many groups are strongly against public smoking because of the effect it has on innocent bystanders. The tobacco companies are afraid of what all these organizations will do to their profits and, as a result, are bringing forth lawsuits against some select organizations because the organizations are so effective in making new laws.

The many new non-smoking laws in bars and restaurants have proved many times profitable to these public places. Therefore, the bars and restaurants, along with many other public places of employment are becoming much safer because of the no smoking rules. This includes less second hand smoking diseases as well as something as drastic as a fire. These new regulations naturally make the non-smoking community very happy; some smokers even believe in the new safety rules. Those smokers who believe they have the right to do whatever they want when they want will have to learn to cope with the new ways. Eventually, these laws will be very common and it won’t be such a big deal to the smoking society once it gets used to it.


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