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Statewide Smoking Ban

This article, from the Star Tribue http://www.startribune.com/587/story/983150.htmlwebpage on Tuesday is about a proposed statewide smoking ban. It's primarily interesting because the Pioneer Press has this link http://www.mnsun.com/articles/2007/02/11/local_news_update/pw15smoking.txt on their website today (Sunday), but this article is actually linked to the Sun Newspapers website.

The Star Tribune article's challenge is to describe the limits of the ban, and elaborate on the failed amendment that would have allowed bar owners to install ventilation systems or pay a license fee to permit smoking on the premises. The only remaining exceptions to the ban are hotel rooms, smoking shops, and Indian casinos. Long sought by antismoking advocates, Mark Brunswick of the Tribune states that the bill is likely to pass.

The article from Sun Newspapers is much more biased, in addition to being several days after the latest development in the smoking ban. In my opinion, The Sun article starts out with the following phrase, "In Hennepin County, the results of its smoking ban can be seen all around: restaurants no longer have smoking sections, there are many fewer smoke-filled bars, and patios are all the rage." All true, perhaps, yet the smoke-filled bars reference seems to be quite subjective. I personally have no problem with a statewide smoking ban, and am quite happy with the results in Minneapolils, but would have tried to take a more balanced approach, like that of Mark Brunsick of the Tribune.


Secondhand smoke should be regulated not banned

The nationwide trend of implementing a ban on secondhand smoke is justified, say activists, to protect the health of workers.

The hypocrisy and inconsistency however, is that every other workplace air quality issue is regulated by OSHA standards, rather than banned. And since smoking bans destroy hospitality businesses in record numbers , air quality regulation is a less destructive method to safeguard the health and welfare of employees and patrons.

Whether it be welding or plasma smoke exposure in factories, diesel smoke exhaust in tunnels or on truck loading docks, ozone produced from copying machines in offices, etc. OSHA regulates all these air quality issues to safeguard the health and safety of employees in all workplaces. So why be inconsistent regarding secondhand smoke which is far less hazardous than welding or plasma smoke for example?

Regarding the claim, by pharmaceutical nicotine funded interests , that OSHA doesn't have a permissible exposure limit for secondhand smoke components, the OSHA table is linked below for your research:


In the OSHA table you'll find a safe permissible exposure limit for thousands of individual components, pick the individual component you want to measure in secondhand smoke, and there is an OSHA safe limit for it. OSHA permissible exposure limits are the safe level of exposure for an 8 hour day / 40 hour per week time period.

Some OSHA permissible exposure limit (PEL) examples of components in secondhand smoke:

Nicotine safe level of exposure (PEL) is 0.5 mg per cubic meter
arsenic safe level of exposure (PEL) is 0.3 mg per cu. meter
benzene safe level of exposure (PEL) is 10 parts per million (ppm)
formaldehyde safe level of exposure (PEL) is 0.75 ppm
acetone safe level of exposure (PEL) is 2400 mg per cu. meter
etc. etc.

The method above is how OSHA regulates employee exposure to welding smoke as well, there is no OSHA permissible limit for "welding smoke", secondhand smoke, wood smoke, or any other composite pollutant of two or more chemicals. OSHA is much more scientific and precise than that......each chemical component of an indoor air pollution source must be measured independently to determine if a health hazard exists.

Arbitrarily declaring that secondhand smoke is a health hazard without conducting any air quality testing is simply a matter of opinion with no basis in science or fact. If we start passing laws based on flawed data we get flawed laws, laws which when finally scrutinized under the microscope of science cannot and will not hold up to a challenge.

Minnesota lawmakers need to stop following the herd of fear-mongering states that have gone before. Minnesota needs to declare that we have a more competent science based community that has conducted air quality testing, and instead of falling for the rhetoric of 16 other states who tell us all that the earth is flat.......we will conduct scientific air quality analysis to determine the facts. Which is a much more preferred method of implementing laws as opposed to giving credence only to partisan funded special interest groups.

You are a keen observer of the news media. We at the American Lung Association of Minnesota and other organizations have formally complained about the clear pro-smoke bias in much of the Sun newspaper coverage of this issue over the past two years. Sometimes their articles read more like editorials than news stories, the rarely challenge unproven statements by ban opponents (2,500 people out of work, 100 places closed, etc)and very seldom interview anyone from our side of the issue.