Smoking Ban or Kicking a Bad Habit

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On June 13, Govenor Ed Rendell signed into law a bill passed by the Pennsylvania Gernal Assembly banning smoking of cigarettes, cigars and pipes in all enclosed workplaces, with no exceptions. Pennsylvania, along with 32 other states, accepted the new law that would also ban smoking in rental properties used for housing, unless said otherwise by the landlord.

Rendell has advocated the smoking ban as a way to reduce health care costs.

Justin Hummel, manager of Harry’s Bar and Grill, and an avid smoker for over 10 years states that he is optimistic about the recent change.

“I don’t think this has or will change our clientele,” says Hummel, “I think more people who do not smoke will come out and those who do smoke will still come out, as well.” 

The new law exempts taverns and bars where food accounts for less than 20% of sales and alcohol accounts for more than 80% of sales, established private clubs where the officers vote to allow it, and on 25% of gambling floor space at casinos; the bill passed also would not allow for more stringent regulation by county and municipal governments. (The cities of Philadelphia and Pittsburgh are exempt from this restriction.)

Hummel says that in order to keep his smoking crowd happy, he will place a designated area outside roped off for those who smoke. In the colder months, Hummel will also place a heater in the roped off smoking area so bar-goers won’t freeze while grabbing a quick smoke.

Businesses or people who break the law would face fines of up to $250 for a first offense, $500 for the second, and up to $1,000 for repeat offenders.

Hummel said that when he goes out to eat, he prefers to go to places that are smoke-free.

“I’d say I am a more recreational smoker,” says Hummel, “I don’t smoke in my own house and I think that it will better off our staffs who are mostly non-smokers.”

Hummel says he is excited about the ban and is happy that the public can attend a smoke-free restaurant and bar.

According to Medline Plus, a service of the U.S. National Library of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health, cigarette smoking causes 87% of lung cancer deaths.

According to the American Cancer Society, lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in both men and women. It is also responsible for many other cancers and health problems including lung disease, heart and blood vessel disease, stroke and cataracts. Secondhand smoke is just as bad.

Secondhand smoke, or environmental tobacco smoke, contains more than 50 substances that can cause cancer. Health effects of exposure to secondhand smoke include lung cancer, nasal sinus cancer, respiratory tract infections and heart disease.

The U.S Environmental Protection Agency has estimated that exposure to secondhand smoke causes about 3,000 lung cancer deaths among nonsmokers and is responsible for up to 300,000 cases of lower respiratory tractinfections in children up to 18 months of age in the United States each year.

An article in Good Housekeeping presents a study done by the researchers from Indiana University which assesses the benefits of a smoking ban in public places in Monroe County, Indiana. The study revealed that hospital admission rates declined by 70% for nonsmokers, however rates for smokers remain the same.

All of these stats and statistics can be monotonous and annoying. But hey, maybe statistics aren’t enough. Maybe this smoking ban will help smokers statewide quit the dirty habit.

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