Smoke caused problems

For many years, smokers scoffed at the idea that their smoke caused problems for others, but now more and more people are realizing that there is real danger. Nonsmokers have been clamoring to effect major changes in the smoking patterns of the smoking population. Smoking was banned on all forms of public transport and in the working place. Policies that ban smoking in public places are effective in reducing passive smoking among non-smokers generally.

They also protect vulnerable groups such as children and infants, children and adults with cardiac or respiratory diseases, and pregnant women against the adverse effects of environmental tobacco smoke. Before June 2003, Alabama was the only state not to restrict indoor smoking; now all states have some form of regulation to protect nonsmokers. Many local governments have laws that are even stricter than state laws. Physicians have for years advised pregnant women to stay out of rooms where smoking is allowed because of the risk to the unborn child.

For many years, nonsmokers thought they avoided health risks from smoke if they were seated in nonsmoking area of a restaurant or other room. Separating smokers from nonsmokers in public places has helped to protect nonsmokers to a degree, but it does not eliminate a nonsmoker’s exposure to environmental tobacco smoke. In response to voices of protest, new laws have emerged to make many more places smoke-free. Restaurant workers may be at least fifty percent more likely to get lung cancer due to second-hand smoke exposure.

In New York City, where many places were already smoke-free, a ban went into effect on April 4, 2003, that prohibited smoking even in bars. A few months later, a similar ban went into effect for New York State. By the end of 2003, five states had strict laws on prohibiting smoking in most public indoor sites. More than 1,500 communities around the country, including some beach areas, have entered clean air laws, and more are expected to go into effect as many smokers and nonsmokers alike enjoy the clear air that makes food taste better and eliminates the health risks of breathing secondhand smoke.

Passive Smoking activists are also lobbying for rising taxes on cigarettes. Naturally, the smoking population would have to be held responsible to pay for a number of hospital visits made by the nonsmoking population, as they battle with damage to lungs, heart and circulation caused due to passive smoking. While it is easy to interdict smoking in all kinds of public places, means have to be devised to curb smoking within the premises of home too, as much of the damage that is done by passive smoking happens in one’s own home.

However, since there may be no legal solution to this problem, a greater moral inducement and promoting greater awareness may be the only way out. Besides legal and moral, there may be some technical solutions possible too. If smokeless cigarettes can be devised to be as effective as the conventional cigarettes, the whole problem of passive smoking can be eradicated in one single stroke. However, the trend of switching to low-tar cigarettes would not ameliorate the situation, in fact it may exacerbate it.

A U. S. Department of Agriculture study shows that smokers who switch to low-tar cigarettes actually increase the health risk to themselves and others. Secondhand smoke form low-tar cigarettes has up to 30 percent more cancer-producing substances than smoke from high-tar cigarettes. Pollution is no. 1 problem of our times, and ETS is part of this problem. Hundreds of organizations around the country and around the world are fighting to clear the air from secondhand smoke. The British government began using ads on television in July 2003 that showed babies inhaling smoke while playing with toys.

Ireland ordered a ban on smoking in workplaces and pubs in 2004. In addition to bans in workplaces, many countries, such as Ireland, Norway, Finland, and the Netherlands, have banned smoking in public places. Some countries in Europe are moving toward adopting American-style bans on smoking in bars. Banning smoking is now becoming a part of the general enterprise of civilization to achieve better quality of living. It is becoming widely recognized for the egregious practice that it is. For some people, inhaling ETS may merely spoil their mood, for many others it may be a matter of life and death.

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