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Public Area Smoking Ban
by Rick Grams


March 14, 2004

Have you ever wondered why laws are made? They are made when the common sense of society is overridden by a minority group within the same society. It's really that simple to explain. Sometimes, it just takes a law to show how right an idea actually is.

Now, let's look at the reason a proposal has been made that will prevent people from smoking in bars, restaurants, and other public places in our community.

The first thing that comes to mind is my apartment building. Apparently, the hallways in apartment buildings are "public areas." This means, that a person who does not want to expose their family to second hand smoke inside the apartment, can go outside in the hallway and smoke. Here's the problem; the smoke comes around the door seams of the adjacent apartment and forces all the other apartment dwellers to breathe the second hand smoke. The people, who live upstairs, get a wonderfully strong dose of second hand smoke due to the laws of physics which require the smoke to drift upward. Every morning starting at 5 a.m., my kids and I can smell a cigarette and many times all night long as well. This is just one reason I want a smoking ban in public areas.

Businesses are worried that a smoking ban will prevent people from coming to their establishment in the future. Do the local businesses think that people come there to smoke their tobacco? I'd like to point out that unless you're actually serving tobacco on the menu, this is not a valid argument. People visit your place of business to buy and consume your product. This has absolutely nothing to do with a person's tobacco using behavior.

During the past week when I've had lunch or dinner out, I've been asked to sign a petition asking the local government to not pass a smoking ban. Would you believe these same establishments did not have a form for me to sign in favor if the ban? Where's my equal opportunity there? Wait a minute I forgot, that's your establishment. Just because I come there to eat dinner and drink a beer (spending my money), does not mean I have the right to expect a smoke free atmosphere. Since I'm already enjoying your food so much that I'm gaining weight, or enjoying one beer too many because my friends are around why not ingest a little second hand smoke at the same time to further increase my chance of heart disease or lung cancer?

I've also heard recently one business owner say, "I don't mind a smoke free environment, I just don't like being told what to do in my own establishment." I have a simple answer to that. Please, take the lead and make your establishment a smoke free environment voluntarily. Be a leader by example; help show the community that a non-smoking ban will not interfere with the profit of your business.

While reviewing the web site of the National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion I ran across the following information

The first article, "Achievements in Public Health: Tobacco Use-United States, 1900-1999," is one in a series of CDC articles recognizing ten of the greatest public health achievements of the 20th century. The article shows that per capita consumption of cigarettes decreased from a high of 4,345 cigarettes in 1963 to a low of 2,261 in 1998, the lowest level since the early 1940s. Despite tremendous public health strides made in reducing tobacco use, more effort is needed to reduce adult smoking, which has remained virtually unchanged in the 1990s; to reverse smoking prevalence among young people, which has been on the rise since 1991; to reduce disparities in smoking prevalence and smoking-related illnesses and deaths among racial/ethnic populations; and to implement and enforce public health policies to protect citizens from secondhand smoke.

Other study findings:

Smoking prevalence rates among adults aged 18 years and older decreased from 42.4 percent in 1965 to 24.7 percent in 1997.

An estimated 1.6 million deaths were postponed because of gains against cigarette smoking, saving more than 33 million person-years of life. Deaths from heart disease have decreased from 307.4 per 100,000 in 1950 to 134.6 per 100,000 in 1996.

Stricter clean indoor air laws have been implemented to limit public exposure to secondhand smoke. Forty-one states and the District of Columbia have laws restricting smoking in state government worksites, and 20 states and the District of Columbia limit smoking in private worksites. Airlines have banned smoking onboard aircrafts, and many people, including 12.5 percent of adult smokers with children, do not allow smoking in the home.

The effects of tobacco use in the United States still are a major public health concern today. During the 1990s, smoking prevalence among adults remained virtually unchanged with approximately a quarter of adults aged 18 years and older currently smoking in the United States. This falls short of the national public health goal to reduce adult smoking to 15 percent or below by the year 2000. Past-month smoking prevalence among high school seniors decreased between the late 1970s and the mid-1980s; however, smoking increased dramatically from 1991 (28.3 percent) to 1997 (36.5 percent). Progress is still needed to protect citizens, particularly young people, from secondhand smoke at home and at work---nearly 88 percent of nonsmokers, adults and children, have detectable levels of serum cotinine (a nicotine metabolite) in their blood. (Source)

Now correct me if I am wrong, because I am not a business owner. I am a consumer. However, if I did own a business I would try to cater/appeal to the largest collection of customers within my community. According to the CDC, this would be the non-smokers.

Another noteworthy article from the Reuters news web site points out: the El Paso study found that restaurants and bars did not lose business because of the smoking ban. "These findings are consistent with the results of studies in other municipalities that determined smoke-free indoor air ordinances had no effect on restaurant revenues," the researchers said in their study. Some 440,000 Americans die each year from lung cancer and other diseases related to smoking and other tobacco use, making it the leading preventable cause of death in the United States, according to the federal government.

Anti-smoking advocates on Thursday applauded the study's findings and urged government officials to enact smoking bans in every state and community in the nation. "The new study underscores why the public, policy makers and the media should treat with skepticism the claims of economic doom and gloom made by opponents of smoke-free laws," William Corr, executive director of the Washington-based Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, said in a statement. U.S. health officials want to cut the cigarette smoking rate in half to 12 percent or less by the end of the decade, although none of the 50 states are on track to meet that goal, according to the CDC. "(Source) and also;

Sales tax receipts rise to $35 million in 2000, up from $25 million in 1995, excerpted from Mercury News

Restaurants and bars are doing a healthy business thanks to California's smoke-free workplace law, according to new figures released by state health officials Wednesday. The report douses initial criticism that the ban would cripple businesses and stifle tourism. Amid a bustling lunch shift at Gordon Biersch restaurant in San Jose, manager Courtney La Voie said the restriction hasn't cut into revenue. ``It hasn't affected business,'' said La Voie. ``People are going to go out to eat despite the fact that they can't smoke.'' The state figures released in San Francisco show that sales taxes from restaurants and bars in the state rose to $35 million in 2000, up from $25 million in 1995, the year restaurants were ordered to become smoke-free zones. California ordered bar owners to outlaw smoking in 1998. ``We heard lots of doom and gloom that this would be a disaster for the economy,'' said state Health Director Diana Bonta, announcing the results Wednesday. ``But California smoke-free laws are good for businesses and good for public health.'' Bonta hopes the data showing revenue growth in the years immediately after the smoking ban will embolden New York, Chicago and other cities considering laws against smoking in public venues. State lawmakers established the groundbreaking and controversial ban after national studies that showed exposure to secondhand cigarette smoke was associated with higher rates of lung, nasal, sinus and cervical cancers as well as heart disease. In California alone, secondhand smoke causes 4,500 to 7,000 deaths from cardiovascular disease each year, the American Heart
Association said.

Pedro Castillo, a waiter for 15 years at the Hilton in San Francisco, said he is breathing easier since his restaurant extinguished smoking eight years ago. ``This is wonderful,'' said Castillo, 58. A new Field Poll also released Wednesday by Gov. Gray Davis' office found that, like Castillo, most workers around the state are happy with the smoking ban. Seventy-five percent of bar owners and workers in California say they prefer to work in a smoke-free zone, while nearly 80 percent of bar patrons say smoke-free dining and drinking establishments are important to their health.

Some critics, like Tom Ryan, a spokesman for Philip Morris USA, take issue with California's statistics, however. Ryan said California hotels and restaurants may be doing well because of factors unrelated to the tobacco ban. He also said the ban strips business owners of their personal freedoms. (As usual, he ignored the rights of workers and their freedom to breathe clean air.) Brad Rocca, owner of Original Joe's in San Jose, understands both sides of the argument, but said he is fine with banning smoking in his restaurant: ``My restaurant is cleaner. I don't have nicotine stains on the wall, which is great, and it smells better.

Furthermore, here's some links with pictures of lungs exposed to second hand smoke:

You know, I enjoy Ketchikan. This is my home too. I have the absolute right to breathe clean air. If I've offended anyone with these facts well, let's just say I care about that equally as much as you care about me and the people I love breathing your smoke.

Rick Grams
Ketchikan Citizen
US Armed Forces Veteran
Ketchikan, AK - USA




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