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Smoking in public places: Should it be banned?- Giudy Nasef, GGS

Smoking is a habit that seems to have grown over the years, not only in adults but especially in young people. Many health experts have found that there is a correlation between smoking and developing cancer, meaning one’s likelihood of developing lung cancer, or potentially dying from it, increases by 15 to 30 times. Every year, approximately 78,000 people die due to a smoking-related illness.  

Second Hand Smoking 

In the United Kingdon, at least 10,000 people, die each year from secondhand smoking. These people were involuntarily inhaling damaging substances due to others who smoked around them. This means that one in 100 people worldwide die every year as a result of passive smoking. Unfortunately, health professionals have announced this is a risk that victims have no control over. Only 17 out of 192 countries in the world have laws against public smoking, despite various research supplying evidence that this cut exposure to second-hand smoke by 60 per cent. 

Banning Public Smoking 

Having more smoking rooms in public places and banning smoking outside of the rooms may help reduce harm inflicted on non-smokers which will significantly reduce the exposure of non-smokers to toxic substances, such as tobacco and nicotine, from the fumes of cigarettes and other smoking products. This will help decrease the number of innocent victims of passive smoking, therefore reducing the number of deaths caused by second hand smoking by a minimum of 50%.


Lawmakers weigh expanding Pa.’s indoor smoking ban to protect casino workers

Fifteen years after Pennsylvania banned smoking in most public places, a Pennsylvania lawmaker wants to close the loopholes that allow patrons to smoke in casinos and some other establishments, to protect workers’ health.

State House Health Committee Chairman Dan Frankel (D-Allegheny), held a hearing on Wednesday where casino dealers, gaming and health experts testified about the negative health effects of secondhand smoke that casino workers breathe at work.

Although representatives of Pennsylvania’s $5.5 billion gaming industry did not testify, at least one other business owner said banning tobacco smoking would have an impact on other types of establishments such as private clubs and cigar bars. The effects ranged from a drop in patronage to immediate closure. 

Frankel cited a National Institutes for Health study released after the Clean Indoor Air Act became law in 2008that projected that six out of 10,000 casino workers would die of heart and lung diseases each year, a rate higher than that for mining disasters. 

“Pennsylvania’s workers should not have to sacrifice their health for a paycheck, but the data shows that’s exactly what’s happening,” Frankel said.

Jen Rubolino said she has worked as a table games dealer since 2019 and was excited about the job when she started because she is a night owl and never liked working in an office. The casino job paid well and offered benefits but she didn’t think about secondhand smoke until she was leaning over a table of smoking gamblers. 

“This is what goes on every day for thousands of casino workers eight hours a day, 40 hours a week as they go to work to make a living,” Rubolino, a founding member of Casino Employees Against Smoking Effects, said.

Rubolino said many casino workers have made long-term careers as dealers. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that prolonged exposure to secondhand smoke increases a person’s risk of health problems such as asthma, emphysema and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

And although Rubolino was able to be assigned to a non-smoking section of her casino because she uses an inhaler, the process was not easy and doesn’t prevent exposure to secondhand smoke entirely. 

There is no existing air filtration system that can reduce the risk of health effects from indoor environmental tobacco smoke to acceptable levels, Bill McQuade, of the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Engineers, testified. 

The organization develops standards for indoor environmental quality and holds the position that the only way to avoid health effects of tobacco smoke is to ban all smoking inside and near buildings. 

But while a gaming industry expert said casinos would likely see only a temporary decline in revenue after a smoking ban, others said prohibiting smoking in public would be devastating to their businesses.

Greg Fox, co-owner of online cigar retailer and wholesaler Global Marketing Inc. in Luzerne County, said his business moved to Pennsylvania from New York 25 years ago because of the commonwealth’s lack of tax on cigars. It has since expanded to operate a cigar pub which he described as a “cigar destination” with fine dining.

“The only way we can determine the quality of a cigar is to smoke it. By banning all indoor smoking, HB 1657, would make it unlawful for us to perform essential quality control steps,” Fox said. “We’d be forced to consider moving our business again. This time outside of Pennsylvania.”

Deb Brown, chief mission officer for the American Lung Association, said that when the original Clean Indoor Air Act was passed, the association said publicly that the law was not the most protective and lawmakers said they would revisit the legislation to make improvements.

Since Pennsylvania passed its indoor smoking ban with exceptions for casinos, 22 other states have banned smoking entirely in public places including casinos, Brown said.

“While it might be too late to go back to protect some workers who have endured another 15 years of exposure to secondhand smoke, it is not too late for us to act now,” Brown told members of the Health Committee. “You have an opportunity long overdue to finally protect not just some but all Pennsylvania workers from the well documented dangers of secondhand smoke.”


Smoking should be banned outside pubs, bars and cafes, councils say

The Local Government Association (LGA), which represents councils in England, is urging peers to support an amendment to the Business and Planning Bill which would make all pavement licences issued by councils subject to the condition that they are smoke-free places.

It said on Saturday that while people who wished to avoid exposure to second-hand smoke could normally to stay inside the coronavirus outbreak meant indoor space was more restricted.

Local authorities need the powers to reflect this and give customers and families the certainty that anywhere they go for a drink or a meal they will not be exposed to other people’s cigarette smoke, the LGA added.

It will also prevent neighbouring shops, particularly in cramped inner-city areas, from being exposed to second-hand smoke, it said.

The move comes as council chiefs in York consider allowing more cafes and bars to have tables and chairs outside to boost business amid the coronavirus restrictions.

Councillor Paulette Hamilton, vice chair of the LGA’s Community Wellbeing Board, urged peers to give councils the powers to extend smoke-free areas to include pavements so “this al fresco summer can be enjoyed by everyone”.

She added: “Pavement licensing should not be a catalyst to increase smoking in public places, putting people at greater risk of ingesting second-hand smoke when they are enjoying a drink or a meal.”

The LGA said that the measure would also contribute to the Government’s ambition of England becoming a smoke-free nation by 2030, following recent figures showing a continuing decline in the number of people smoking.

The Business and Planning Bill is due to have its third reading in the House of Lords on Monday.

One of the provisions is to fast-track the process by which cafes, pubs and restaurants in England can apply for temporary permission to put chairs and tables outside to allow premises to serve as many people as possible while respecting social distancing guidance.

A number of peers want the granting of pavement licences to be subject to the condition that smoking is prohibited.

The proposal is opposed by the Government, which argued that the emergency legislation should not be used as “a backdoor route” to try to ban smoking outdoors.

Putting forward the amendment earlier this week, Liberal Democrat peer Baroness Northover pointed out that more than 85 per cent of people do not smoke.

She said: “The UK hospitality sector will not recover if we can’t make it an enjoyable experience for the majority of their clients.”

But Simon Clark, director of the smokers’ group Forest, described the proposal as “insane”, adding: “There is absolutely no justification for government to intervene on public health grounds because there is no evidence that smoking outside is a significant risk to non-smokers.

“Government should be reducing red tape, not adding to it with arbitrary regulations that can only hurt the hospitality industry.”

And restaurateur and chef Antony Worrall Thompson said: “Why on earth would the Lords and LGA want to discourage a substantial number of people from returning to pubs, cafes and restaurants?

“For smokers it is one of the few remaining pleasures, sitting al fresco, minding their own business, enjoying a glass of wine or a pint of beer.

“Allow landlords and customers to make up their own minds. It’s all a matter of choice.”

A spokesperson for the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government said: “We will not ban outdoor smoking. Since the existing ban was introduced businesses have invested heavily in their outdoor areas and banning outdoor smoking would lead to significant closures and job losses.

“Businesses should look at ways they can accommodate both smokers and non-smokers, while smokers should exercise public responsibility and be considerate.

“We are helping our pubs, cafes and restaurants safely reopen and securing jobs by making it quicker, easier and cheaper to operate outside. The Government’s priority is protecting public health against the transmission of the Covid virus, whilst ensuring the venues remain open and be economically sustainable.”

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