Mar 25, 2009

Negative myths about workplace smoking ban debunked at Committee hearing

LANSING -- Opponents of the workplace smoking ban, including bars and restaurants, got their supporters out at the second hearing on the smoking ban before the House Regulatory Reform Committee on Wednesday, but supporters of the ban used science and personal stories to offset the false myths.

All of the opposition came from tobacco funded lobbyist groups like the Michigan Licensed Beverage Association, the Michigan Restaurant Association and the Michigan Lodging and Tourism Association. The CEOs of MGM Grand Casino and the Motor City Casino testified about the ventilation system just a week after the Committee made a field trip to the two casinos. They also again floated the false claim that a smoking ban would cause them a drop in business of 11 to 22 percent.

Dr. Greg Holzman, the medical officer from the Michigan Department of Community Health (DCH), debunked the myth that the ventilation system will make a difference.

“There has been no ventilation system that clears out secondhand smoke,” he said. “There is no safe amount of secondhand smoke.”

Holzman said the damage caused by secondhand smoke has not been in doubt for more than 20 years.

“No one should have to make a choice between a paycheck and their health,” he said. “The science is very clear; secondhand smoke causes premature death and sickness.”

Cliff Douglas, the Executive Director of the University of Michigan Tobacco Research Network, also debunked the casinos ventilation claim. Douglas was involved in the effort than banned smoking on commercial airliners 20 years ago.

“The ventilation systems give people a false sense of security that they will be protected, and they aren’t,” he said. “This was the same issue with the airline smoking ban, and it was put to rest 20 years ago.”

Douglas also put to rest the myth that bars and restaurants lose business when they enact a smoking ban. Study after study has proven that not to be true, including a report last spring by the Lansing research firm Public Sector Consultants Inc. called “Smokefree workplaces: The Impact of House Bill 4163 on the Restaurant and Bar Industry in Michigan.” No one addressed how less than a quarter of the population who still smokes can control so much money and have such an effect on business.

However, he did say the info on casinos is sketchy, but he cited Delaware where revenue increased 2 percent when a smoking ban was enacted.

“Every single peer-reviewed study that examines sales records and tax receipts has shown there has never been a loss of business because of a smoking ban,” he said. “Many have seen an increase in business.”

Dr, Mary Goldman, a general practitioner from Northville for 20 years, talked about a former patient who died of lung cancer after working as a cocktail waitress from age 18 to 42, even though she had never smoked a day in her life.

“She was killed by secondhand smoke, clearly,” she said.

The Regulatory Reform Committee will be taking another field trip this Friday at a so-called “cigar bar.”

They will be at La Case De La Habana in Plymouth, 3780 Jackson Rd., 48103, from 1:30 to 2 p.m. The committee will be at Smokey's Fine Cigars, 1423 E Stadium Blvd. in Ann Arbor from 2:30 to 3 p.m. All committee meetings are open to the public.

The Committee expects to meet at its regular time and place - noon at Wednesday April 1 in room 326 in the House Office Building at 124 N. Capitol in Lansing- to report out a smoking ban bill.


kevins said...

One person's death, however tragic, proves nothing. The doctor, however well intentioned, is a general practioner. She's not a cancer researcher; she's not an oncologist; she's not a statistician. She is assuming a causal relationship with no proof. There are people who are distanced from smoking who die from lung cancer.

So there must be studies that show that non-smoking employees of places that allow smoking have higher lung cancer rates than do non-smokers of the general population? Can you point me to those?

The argument that there is no such thing as a safe level of secondhand smoke is true but could be meaningless. What is the threat? When it comes to fatal car accidents, there is no level of risk-free car driving. But that doesn't prove anything.

What is the history of non-smokers who work in smoking establishments?

Communications guru said...

That may be true, but 50,000 deaths a year does. Food service workers appear to be 50 percent more likely than the general population to develop lung cancer, according to "Disparities in smoke-free workplace policies among food service workers," Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine.;jsessionid=JMwhLcHZ202MznG53knyc9fKKQV28LyTLMKTTzcX7pysthpHb0G9!-256325120!181195629!8091!-1

Brian said...

Is this the same study that was debunked by scientists and thrown out by a federal judge?

Communications guru said...