Savannah Stone

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Savannah Stone

Mrs. Stansell

English 103.07

February 19, 2007

                                      No Smoking Allowed

        “Keep smoking. I want you to die” (Cafepress.com). Although this crude humor found

on a t-shirt at Cafepress.com may not be the best way to promote the smoking ban in Clemson,

or anywhere for that matter, a fundamental principle lies within the statement. In all likeliness,

slogans such as this one will not change anyone’s choice to smoke, but the people who do not in

fact choose to participate in this behavior can support the area’s proposal to regulate where

others’ unhealthy decision affects us. This ban could not only provide benefits for the people of

this city, both smokers and nonsmokers alike, but it could also strengthen the smoking ban

campaign throughout the country.

       Back in my hometown, there is a popular restaurant (probably because it is about the only

one that stays open all hours of the night), and most everyone has heard its nickname: “Smoke

and Choke.” Going in that place without breathing in smoke and coming out without smelling

like it results in a hopeless fight. One possible reason they have not gone out of business

because of this uncomfortable atmosphere, to say the least, lies within the fact that “In 2004, an

estimated 44.5 million, or 20.9 percent, of adults were current smokers” (“Smoking 101”).

Assuming this statistic applies to the city of Clemson today, this means about one in five adults

choose to smoke in our community. I’m sure everyone has heard by now that “secondhand

smoke is dangerous to your health,” but how hazardous could a little puff of smoke really be to

us if we don’t light-up? Well, just think about all the times during a week, or even in just one
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day, we are exposed to those little puffs of smoke, here and there. Working with a smoker;

eating at a restaurant with smokers everywhere; riding in the same vehicle as a smoker; walking

down a sidewalk behind a smoker; or in fact living with a smoker all occur quite regularly in the

everyday lives of Americans. One little inhale of the stuff doesn’t seem toxic enough to poison

you for life though, right? However, “short exposures to second hand smoke can cause blood

platelets to become stickier, damage the lining of blood vessels, decrease coronary flow velocity

reserves, and reduce heart rate variability, potentially increasing the risk of heart attack”

(“Second Hand Smoke”). That’s not a pleasant thought; for the most part, we can’t even control

when we meet up with smokers!

       Just a few more statistics in case the necrotic blood vessels aren’t scary enough: the risk

for heart disease shoots up 25%, with about 22,700-69,600 deaths a year, as a result of

secondhand smoke exposure; the lung cancer death toll due to secondhand smoking results in

about 3,400 deaths per year; and places such as smoke-tolerating restaurants, bars, and jobs

significantly increases the odds of inhaling secondhand smoke (“Second Hand Smoke”). Also,

the correlation between chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and second hand smoke aroused

enough concern for the University of California’s Department of Medicine to conduct an

experiment testing the nicotine content found in a select group of people diagnosed with this

disease that were not smokers (Eisner et al.). Their conclusion states:

       Directly measured SHS [second hand smoke] exposure appears to adversely influence

       health outcomes in COPD [chronic obstructive pulmonary disease], independent of

       personal smoking. Because SHS is a modifiable risk factor, clinicians should assess SHS

       exposure in their patients and counsel its avoidance. In public health terms, the effects of
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       SHS exposure on this vulnerable subpopulation provide a further rationale for laws

       prohibiting public smoking (Eisner et al.).

       Now that the negative effects have been well-established, I want to ask, “Why does the

government allow this?” Don’t you and I have rights as well as smokers? Why should the

government, or any humane citizen, desire to protect ANY right if it causes harm to others?

Think about the laws involving alcohol for a minute. Yes, alcohol remains legal, but there are

restraints on where it can be consumed because of the potential harm to others. The complaint

here does not lie within the fact that smoking remains legal for those who choose to harm their

own body, but rather the fact that there should be a law to guard these innocent victims from

something they don’t bring upon themselves. According an online forum entitled “Nation’s

Toughest Smoking Ban,” inspired by a newly-enforced smoking ban in the city of Belmont, a

person with the online name “NICU” responded with the comment, “I hate smoking and I'm

100% for banning smoking in businesses - especially bars and restaurants because the people

working there are trying to make a living and its terrible that other peoples' bad habits are

damaging their health” (“Nation’s Toughest”). Although this forum may not always be

“politically correct,” I do believe this “NICU” has a very relevant argument. The people that

work in these places have to smell and breathe the smoke every time they show up to do their

job. At least customers can choose where to eat, but these workers suffer the uncomfortable

smoky atmosphere for many hours at a time, even if they work in a so-called “non-smoking

section.”

       Speaking of non-smoking sections, many of the current tactics in place to keep

nonsmokers away from the fumes of smokers are nowhere near efficient. The other day at

Outback, I was eating supper and the only thing separating my family and I from the smoking
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booth beside us was a wall that was only a few feet about our heads. Needless to say, the

restaurant’s alleged attempt to keep the two sections apart proved to be less than satisfactory.

The United States Department of Health and Human Services provides several recommendations

for protection against secondhand smoke, including a warning against restaurants that are not

smoke-free (“Health Consequences”). In almost any setting, the effort to isolate smoke to a

certain area seems nearly impossible because of the gaseous property of the smoke. Unless

completely detached from a room or section of a restaurant, bar, or even home, smoke will

diffuse through the air, despite the efforts of a wall or divided area. It seems the only effective

option for restaurants to improve the situation for the rest of us lies within the decision to either

become totally smoke-free or completely separate the smoking and non-smoking areas with an

appropriate barrier.

       This idea of reformation within a business may tend to scare the owners of such

restaurants or bars. To put their minds at ease, perhaps they should consider the widely

renowned bar called the Counting House located in the United Kingdom, a place that has already

made the decision to accept a smoking ban. After the law required a change in the bar’s

environment, they closed in order to make some drastic changes in the cleanliness of the building

in preparation for the new smoke-free atmosphere. When the bar reopened, business boomed

(Brownell B3). People didn’t stay away because they weren’t allowed to smoke inside, but

instead, they welcomed the idea of a bar with an air supply that was actually pleasant to breathe

in. So, where do all the smokers go with a smoke-free business? Well, the Counting House

exemplifies a very practical way to handle the situation. Instead of allowing smoking in the bar,

smokers are welcome to leave the inside of the building to take a “smoke break” outside,

insuring the sanitation of the building, along with the health of the people inside (Brownell B3).
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I don’t know about you, but I would enjoy going to a nice restaurant without the apprehension of

where to sit only because of inconsiderate smokers.

       Obviously, the smoking ban proved to be a positive experience for places, both within

and outside the United States. So, what is the rest of the U.S. waiting for? Shouldn’t the United

States of America, in fact, unite on the decision to ban smoking? Why should a fraction of the

country be separated from the rest? Greenville, South Carolina, recently passed a smoking ban

in the downtown area of the city, which prompted several responses, both good and bad. Of

course some people, mainly the smokers in the city, were not pleased, but the ban also prompted

Beth Padgett, a writer for The Greenville News, to respond with the following statements:

       I'm allergic to cigarette smoke, but also was ambivalent about the reach of the city's ban.

       So last Monday night, I'm supposed to meet some friends downtown for dinner. It was a

       restaurant I hadn't gone to before, in part because of its reputation for being so smoky.

       (Restaurant's small and smoking was allowed in the bar that is indistinguishable from the

       restaurant area.) It was a very pleasant experience, and I got to enjoy great food in a

       restaurant I had avoided until this month (Padgett).

       Although Padgett wasn’t the only one in support of the ban, there were also people that

claimed to be avoiding downtown in a type of protest. How long can this really last? Will these

people boycott these restaurants forever? Perhaps this small loss of business hurts the restaurant

owners for a short time in the present, but eventually business may even increase for them in the

future, similar to the story of the bar in Scotland (Brownell B3). Every great war that is won

usually encounters some type of loss along the way, even if it’s at the smallest battle. Once these

protesters get tired of avoiding their favorite restaurants, and if we don’t give in by letting them

have their way, our fight will finally be finished.
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       Over 600 municipalities in the United States have already banned smoking in restaurants,

bars, and/or workplaces, leaving 36.8% workplaces, 50.0% restaurants, and 38.2% bars smoke-

free in America (“United States Population”). Many colleges have also joined the fight against

public smoking, prohibiting smoking in resident areas or anywhere on campus. Although

Clemson University does not allow smoking in any student residence area on campus, they have

not yet joined the other forty-two U.S. colleges in implementing a completely smoke-free

campus (“Colleges and Universities”).

       Clemson community: we now have a choice to make. Do we join the fight or let others

fight for us? When asked the question, “Would you like to see smoking banned in downtown

Clemson,” 69% of online voters answered “yes,” according to the Clemson University campus

newspaper (“The Tiger Poll”). This country, established on the “people’s right to govern,” ought

to listen to the majority of its constituents. However, no one will hear a silent cry for help; we

cannot, and should not, stay silent any longer.
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                                            Works Cited

“Humor, Anti-smoking T-Shirts and Gifts.” Cafepress.com. 12 Feb. 2007. <http://

       www.cafepress.com/buy/anti-smoking/humor>.

Brownell, Naylor. “Ban smoke in bars.” The Tiger. 26 Jan. 2007: B3.

“College and Universities with Smokefree Air Policies.” American Nonsmokers’ Rights

       Foundation. 12 Jan. 2007. 11 Feb. 2007. <http://www.no-

       smoke.org/pdf/smokefreecollegesuniversities.pdf>.

Eisner et al. “Directly measured secondhand smoke exposure and COPD health outcomes.”

       BMC Pulmonary Medicine. 6.12 (2006). Pubmed Central. 6 Jun. 2006. <http://

       www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/articlerender.fcgi?tool=pmcentrez&artid=1524811>.

“Nation’s Toughest Smoking Ban.” Weblog posting. Digg.com. 21 Nov. 2006. 11 Feb. 2007

       <http://digg.com/health/Nation_s_Toughest_Smoking_Ban>.

Padgett, Beth. “Beth Padgett: How has the city’s smoking ban affected you?” Editorial. The

       Greenville News. 30 Jan. 2007. 11 Feb. 2007

       <http://news.greenvilleonline.com/blogs/padgett/2007/01/beth_padgett_how_has_the_

       citys.html>.

“Secondhand Smoke Fact Sheet.” American Lung Association. 12 Feb. 2007 < http://

       www.lungusa.org/site/pp.asp?c=dvLUK9O0E&b=35422>.

“Smoking 101 Fact Sheet.” American Lung Association. 12 Feb. 2007 <http://

       www.lungusa.org/site/pp.asp?c=dvLUK9O0E&b=39853>.

“The Tiger Poll.” The Tiger. 1 Feb. 2007. <http://media.www.thetigernews.com/

       poll/index.cfm?event=displayPollResults>.
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United States. Department of Health & Human Services. The Health Consequences of

      Involuntary Exposure to Tobacco Smoke: A Report of the Surgeon General, U.S.

      Department of Health and Human Services. 4 Jan. 2007. 11 Feb. 2007

      <http://www.surgeongeneral.gov/ library/secondhandsmoke/factsheets/factsheet3.html>.

“United States Population Protected by 100% Smokefree Workplace* and/or Restaurant**

      and/or Bar Laws.” American Nonsmokers’ Rights Foundation. 12 Jan. 2007. 11 Feb.

      2007. <http://www.no-smoke.org/pdf/EffectivePopulationList.pdf>.

				
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