Capnophobia and Fumiphobia, Part 4
What Does the Future Hold for Smoking in Public?
- In the wake of a ban on smoking in enclosed public places in New York, British MPs voted recently introduced a bill to prevent lighting up in cafes and restaurants.
- A Labour MP has won a vote to introduce a bill to secure a ban on smoking in cafes and restaurants.
- Gareth Thomas's smoking (restaurants) bill will prevent people from lighting up in all establishments that sell food.
- He says the measure is necessary to reduce the 12,000 deaths from heart disease, lung cancer, and respiratory problems as a direct result of breathing in second-hand smoke.
- MPs voted to introduce the bill by 115 votes to 43.
Is there public enthusiasm for such a move?
- More than half of Britons back New York-style bans on smoking in restaurants, according to a survey.
- The British survey found 53%; including 23% of smokers; wanted smoke-free restaurants, while 76% agreed that waiting staff had the right to work in smoke-free surroundings.
- The Department of Health blocked calls for a ban on workplace smoking—which would mean bars and restaurants would prevent customers lighting up, to protect their staff—favouring a voluntary approach.
What is the nature of the New York legislation?
- Smoking was already banned in most workplaces, but the latest law extends to bars, restaurants, and hotel lobbies.
- The only exceptions are a few cigar bars and membership clubs with no paid employees.
- While some bars and restaurants still appear to have their share of inhaling offenders, that could change shortly.
- Venues caught with smoking customers face fines starting at $250 and the loss of their food licenses; a number of smaller bars say the fines could shut them down.
How has it changed the city?
- New Yorkers are taking to the streets—and once they get there, they're lighting up.
- All that the anti-nicotinist has ever visualized was clean, clear air.
- No more second-hand smoke to threaten the lives of waiters, waitresses and innocent customers in the thousands of taverns where a fog of cigarette fumes was part of the total experience.
- Suddenly [the streets] look like a casting call for Gangs Of New York.
- Enforcing New York's new anti-smoking law has led to friction between the staff and customers of some bars and clubs in the city, several workers and patrons say.
- Most were not surprised that a bouncer at an East Village bar had been killed in a fight that, witnesses told the police, started after he told two brothers they were not allowed to smoke inside.
- A bouncer at Red Rock West Saloon, who is known to patrons as Johnnie Wacko, spoke of an ongoing battle between bar workers and patrons.
- He has, he said, a no-nonsense way of dealing with [recalcitrants].
- "I grab their cigarette," he said, "then I pop it, lit, into my mouth, chew it up, and spit it onto the sidewalk."
- "That gives them the hint," he said.
Do Others Have Similar Smoking Rules?
- Norway's parliament voted to make the country among the first in the world to outlaw smoking in bars and restaurants nationwide, but it delayed the ban to spare smokers from having to freeze outdoors next winter.
- In March, 2003, Ireland announced it would ban smoking in public work-places, including pubs and restaurants.
- Several cities in the US and Canada have put such rules into effect.
Is there any evidence to support the health arguments against tobacco?
- In June, 2002, the citizens of Helena, Montana, voted to ban smoking in all public buildings;including restaurants, bars, and casinos.
- Soon after, doctors at the local hospital noticed that heart-attack admissions were dropping.
- So they, in conjunction with the University of California-San Francisco, did a study to measure the potential short-term effects of a smoking ban.
- First, there was no change in heart attack rates for patients who lived outside the city limits.
- Second, for city residents, the rates plummeted by 58 percent in only six months.
- "We know from longer-term studies that the effects of second-hand smoke occur within minutes, and that long-term exposure to second-hand smoke is associated with a 30 percent increased risk in heart-attack rates," said Stanton Glantz, a professor of medicine who conducted the study's statistical analysis.
- "But it was quite stunning to document this large an effect so quickly."
- It was a shock to witness what happened next.
- The Montana state legislature, under pressure from the Montana Tavern Association and tobacco lobbyists, rescinded the ban in December, 2002.
- As a result, heart-attack rates bounced back up almost as quickly as they had dropped.
- The bottom line of Helena's plummeting then soaring heart attack rate is painfully obvious.
- Second-hand smoke kills.
- Only 30 minutes of exposure to it causes platelets in the bloodstream to become stickier.
- When that happens, blood clots form more easily, which can block arteries and cause heart attacks.
- Dr. Richard Sargent, one of the authors of the stuy, pointed out that eight hours of working in a smoky bar is equivalent to smoking a pack of cigarettes a day.
- Smoking in public places also sets off an enormous domino effect in public-health spending by creating or worsening illnesses whose treatment costs are paid by taxpayers.
- For all of these reasons, New Yorkers can not afford to be as easily defeated as the citizens of Helena;nor as easily manipulated by the tobacco lobby and the politicians who are in its pocket.