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EDITORIAL: Ban smoking in all public places
The Citizens' Voice - 9/24/2023
Sep. 24—The long list of special interests to which state legislators pander long has included, in effect, respiratory diseases and lung cancer. Their refusal to eliminate smoking in all public places is a long-running tragedy that has adversely affected public health.
Partially because of education and partly because of laws that prevent people from imposing their addiction on others, smoking has been in freefall for decades among Americans. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 11.5% of American adults smoke, down from 20.9% in 2005, and down from nearly 50% when the surgeon general issued the groundbreaking report on tobacco in 1964.
Yet 28.3 million American adults still smoke, and when they do so in public places they pass on toxic substances to those nearby who don't smoke.
Those involuntary recipients of secondhand smoke include thousands of people who work in casinos, some bars and other venues that lawmakers have exempted from the state Clean Indoor Air Act.
Democratic state Rep. Dan Frankel of Allegheny County, chairman of the state House Health Committee, introduced a bill that would result in the Clean Indoor Air Act living up to its title. It would eliminate exemptions for casinos, private clubs and bars. It also would bar smoking in vehicles that are used for child- and adult-care services.
The bill also would apply to vaping.
Some casinos and others pushed back against the proposal, claiming that it would bring financial ruin to some businesses — even though it would put all competitors on the same footing.
As Frankel put it: "There was a time when you could smoke in the pediatrician's office. You could smoke on an airplane. We banned it in restaurants in 2008. Each time, some section of the public objected and then they adjusted. These minor adjustments from consumers made a big difference to workers."
The deadly health effects of smoking and second smoke are indisputable. Banning smoking in all indoor places is the only responsible option for lawmakers, who should pass Frankel's bill.
(c)2023 The Citizens' Voice (Wilkes-Barre, Pa.)
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