Tuesday, March 06, 2007


Smoking bans do affect businesses

Elected officials of Derby, I know not what impact the opinion of a history professor from Georgia may have on your decision regarding a smoking ordinance, but my opinion was solicited and I shall give it. The evidence is clear smoking bans kill establishments. In Delaware, even supporters of the state’s smoking ban admit the ban drove some establishments into extinction. As for New York, an article that appeared in the Philadelphia Evening Bulletin on July 18, 2006 titled “N.Y., N.J. Businesses Say Smoking Ban” examined the effects of the smoking bans in New York and New Jersey. According to the article, Scott Wexler, executive director of the Empire State Restaurant and Tavern Association, stated, “There’s no question ... that the smoking bans have hurt the taverns and the bars.” He said a loss of about 20 percent of sales has been typical.“People have seen gains from the floor, closing the gap in the losses. But most of my members are still doing less business today than they were before the ban ... About 25 percent of our member establishments closed over the last three years.”Derby council members, ask yourselves, what if you ran one of these businesses that closed due to a smoking ban? How would you feel? As far as smoking in privately-owned businesses is concerned, leave it alone. Let the free market decide for itself. The free market has already been making the shift toward non-smoking establishments for years. The free market IS the “level playing field.”Anti-smokers speak of deaths from secondhand smoke. Yet, strangely, they never seem to produce the victims. Ask them for the bodies, the death certificates, the graves. They cannot produce them because there are none. Of course it is hard to find victims when even nonsmoking bartenders inhale the equivalent of 1/10th of a cigarette per shift.
Anti-smoking forces bring up the issue of the Surgeon General’s Report. Former Surgeon General Carmona is a tobacco prohibitionist whose statement that there was no safe level of tobacco smoke came from a press release, not his report. In addition, Carmona conveniently ignored the most extensive study on secondhand smoke ever done “Environmental tobacco smoke and tobacco related mortality in a prospective study of Californians, 1960-98” by James E. Enstrom and Geoffrey C. Kabat. Enstrom and Kabat concluded, “The results do not support a causal relation between environmental tobacco smoke and tobacco related mortality, although they do not rule out a small effect. The association between exposure to environmental tobacco smoke and coronary heart disease and lung cancer may be considerably weaker than generally believed.” Should you pass a smoking ban for the workers? The federal agency OSHA certainly refuses to. OSHA has found all the components in secondhand smoke are present at safe levels in the vast majority of public places. This is why you are being pressured to pass this ban, the antismokers know OSHA has said NO! yet OSHA is the very agency which should be concerned with bans if the danger were real. If OSHA, a federal agency, will not advocate a smoking ban for businesses, then why should the Derby City Council pass one? At least one city council member feels the day is coming when the nation will be smoke free. Perhaps officially at some point the nation’s businesses might all become smoke free, but that outcome is not inevitable, nor desirable. And opposition to the smoke ban craze is not futile. Throughout history smoke bans rarely withstand the test of time. Already in California an estimated 50 percent of bars ignore the state’s smoke ban in order to stay in business. Rumors are also rampant of restaurants that have hidden rooms’ for special smoking guests and some that even have “patios” with four walls and a ceiling. Could the United States adequately enforce a national smoking ban? Right now we cannot stop millions of illegal aliens from crossing the border, nor can we win the drug war. In fact, according to one recent report, marijuana has become the largest cash crop in the United States-70 years after it was officially banned. My position against smoking bans may not be very politically correct right now. Much of the public is supporting bans as indicated by the fact that city council members, legislators and uninformed voters have passed bans in many parts of the country. The right thing to do is not always popular though. There was a time when the majority of Americans supported racial segregation for example, but did that make racial segregation right? This country might be headed for blanket smoking prohibition, but here is one historian who will not sit idly by and see that happen. I have chosen what I believe in my heart to be the right position, and I will not waver. I take my stand.

Jeremy Richards, Ph.D.,

Friday, March 02, 2007

Seven Questions for Mr. Smitherman -ON

February 21 , 2007 :

Health and Long Term Care Minister George Smitherman recently stated that the apparent death from hypothermia of a long-term care patient, who was made to go outside to smoke, had nothing to do with his smoking bans and regulations. He then gave an opinion which appeared to endorse the charging of a worker in connection with this tragic death.“Is it appropriate for a minister of the crown to make statements that may reflect prejudicially on a case before the courts, and which seem designed to deflect any questions about the impact his laws and regulations may be having on the residents of long-term care facilities and on those who try the care for them?” said Nancy Daigneault, president of the smokers’ rights group mychoice.ca.Ms. Daigneault said Mr. Smitherman’s statements raise questions about his regulations that deserve answers.
Question 1:
Will the minister provide a list of all the cases that have occurred involving injuries to smoking residents, since his regulations came into force last May 31? All such cases require by law that an incident report be filed with his ministry. This list should be made public.
Question 2:
Why did Mr. Smitherman make the regulations for special smoking rooms in these facilities so onerous that most cannot afford them?Question 3:
Why did he ignore submissions from homes and an association representing homes asking for reasonable accommodation and grandfathering of existing separate and ventilated rooms?
Question 4:
Why is Mr. Smitherman letting local health authorities ban even outdoor shelters at long term care and even psychiatric facilities and force elderly and ill residents off the grounds to smoke? In many cases there are employees who smoke, and family members who would gladly volunteer to assist residents who smoke to do so in a safe environment.
Question 5:
Why is his government refusing to provide any financial help to these homes to meet his extreme new rules, yet is giving millions to casinos for shelters for smokers who gamble?In a Global TV debate* last May 25, Health Promotion Minister Jim Watson responded to concerns about the impact of the law and refused to consider such funding for long term care homes. He stated: “We don't believe that we should be spending tax dollars to subsidize the construction of smoking lounges. That's not a good use of tax money.” Now that it has changed its mind and sees casino smoking shelters as a good use of tax dollars, will it change its mind and also help LTC facility residents?
Question 6:
Does the government really think that all of the measures it has imposed on LTC facilities are absolutely necessary and justify any risks they have created for these residents?
Question 7:
If the answer to question six is yes, can it provide independent, verified science that supports this belief and justifies actions that include imposing involuntary cessation on LTC residents or forcing them out of their homes and onto the streets in winter to smoke?
* Transcript of debate available on request.

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