Smokers Beware

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Smokers Beware

Paul Benko puts on his shirt and tie and begins the 15-minute walk to work. He is going to a job that has become a little bit more enjoyable since May 5, 2003. Benko, a non-smoker, has been happier at work as the manager of Our House East, a small bar on the Northeastern Campus in Boston, given that this bar no longer can allow smoking inside.

“It used to get really smoky inside and was hard to breathe sometimes because it was so busy and everyone was smoking,” Benko said. “I would have to dry-clean my work clothes every week because all my nice shirts reeked of smoke.”

The lack of a specified smoking section also caused this small campus bar to become extremely filled with smoke.

“People used to walk around smoking, talking, and drinking,” Benko said. “It was gross and people used to burn each other all the time.”

According to an Environmental Protection Agency study, nearly 3,000 people die each year from second-hand smoke. Much exposure to second-hand smoke is caused by having a spouse or co-workers who smoke or working in a place where anyone can smoke. The ban was instated to protect those non-smoker lungs and the lungs of children.

“It was decided that people should not have to decide between their health and their jobs,” said Gifford Miller, New York City Council Speaker, when he announced New York City was going smoke free.

A study done by the World Health Organization showed workplace exposure to second-hand smoke gave a 17 percent increased chance in developing lung cancer. While this number was not considered statistically significant it is still an unnecessary increase.

Each year Massachusetts spends $4.8 million on tobacco prevention, control, and awareness programs, according to the American Lung Association.

Besides the smoking ban, the biggest fight against smoking has been the tax rate. Massachusetts state law requires a tax of $1.51 per pack of cigarettes; one of the highest in the United States.

Massachusetts is not the first place to fight for smoke-free air. Norway was first place in the world to ban smoking in all public places and Britain is in the process of creating a similar law.

In the U.S., California and Delaware already have statewide bans of smoking in all indoor workplaces. Maine bans smoking in restaurants and many other states such as Montana, Arizona, and West Virginia are seeing individual cities and towns go smoke-free.
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