Secondhand smoke is a serious health risk

Banning smoking in bars and restaurants is an excellent way to combat this problem.

In “Smoking ban bad policy based on bad science,” (opinion, Aug. 18) Sue Jeffers calls the health risk caused by secondhand smoke “exaggerated.”

In Helena, Mont., a sharp drop in admissions for heart attacks was seen after a smoking ban was passed – nearly 40 percent. While not all of this can be attributed to the ban, the percentage was statistically significant, and when the ban was suspended because of a legal challenge, heart attack rates again went up.

According to London’s St. George’s Medical School and the Royal Free Hospital, in a study that followed 4,792 men over 20 years, passive smoking increased the risk of coronary heart disease by 50 percent to 60 percent.

Secondhand smoke contributes to lung cancer, heart disease, asthma, sudden infant death syndrome, bronchitis, pneumonia, ear infections, etc. The list goes on and on. This is all clearly documented and proven with medical science.

Anyone who can accurately read a medical journal or knows anything about research methodology knows this perfectly well – secondhand smoke causes negative health effects. Period.

A death certificate would never list “secondhand smoke” as a cause of death, just as it would never list “eating fatty foods and not exercising” as a cause of death for a heart attack victim, or “pregnancy” as a cause of death for a woman who died of eclampsia.

Acting as if official death certificate nomenclature counters all the evidence proving the harmful health effects of secondhand smoke is grasping at very thin straws.

Jeffers’ allegations about economic loss are also baseless.

Norway instituted a new anti-smoking law June 1, banning all smoking at bars, pubs and restaurants. According to a survey by TV 2, of the 50 establishments in Oslo, Bergen, Stavanger, Trondheim and Tromso that were contacted, 22 of them stated that their turnover increased in June and July of this year compared with last year.

In Prescott, Ariz., city sales tax revenue from restaurants has increased by nearly 5 percent since a smoking ban went into effect in November.

New York had an 8.7 percent increase in sales in bars and restaurants after its smoking ban, according to the city’s Department of Finance.

In Maryland, Montgomery County’s revenue in restaurants increased in the six months after a countywide ban on smoking took effect. This includes alcohol sales, which have increased by almost 4.5 percent, or $600,000, in the six months from October to March, compared with the same period one year before.

In El Paso, Texas, gross revenues continued to increase in restaurant and bar, restaurant-only and bar-only revenues after the smoking ban was implemented. The list goes on and on, and will soon include Minneapolis.

The government has an interest in the health of the public. Secondhand smoke is one of the leading causes of preventable death in the United States. A bar and restaurant smoking ban is an excellent way to combat that.

Bree Richards is a University student. Please send comments to [email protected]