2002-11-02 / Letters

Second-Hand Smoke Kills

Second-Hand Smoke Kills

Dear Editor;

The Smoke-Free Workplace Act of 2002 is about protecting the health of those who work in the hospitality industry ("Even Smokers Have Rights" editorial, 10/19/02).  Although food does taste better without the toxic stink of cigarette smoke, it is more imperative that bartenders and
wait-staff can breathe the air at their jobs without fear of lung cancer.

It is indeed a question of rights? Does a smoker have the right to imperil those around him or her?  The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency puts secondhand smoke in the same group of cancer-causing agents as asbestos, yet efforts to remove asbestos from the workplace have generated much less controversy.  The reason: no one is addicted to asbestos.

Smoke-free air regulations are already in place in California, Delaware, and more than 80 cities and counties nationwide.  These regulations have had no economic impact on the hospitality industry.  For example, since California went smoke-free, every category of business that serves alcohol reported higher taxable revenue.  This is a fact we cannot dismiss.

Secondhand smoke kills more than 60,000 people nationwide every year. Removing that smoke from the air in all restaurants, bars, and other worksites is both good for health and business.

DONALD DISTASIO
CEO, AMERICAN CANCER SOCIETY
FORMER BELLE HARBOR RESIDENT


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