The New York Times has an article today that reports that over fifty percent of the U.S. Population is now covered by ordinances or laws that provide for smokefree restaurants and bars. As a fierce advocate for smokefree workplaces, I find this to be fantastic news.
From my hometown of Charleston, SC to Nevada to Ohio, smokefree workplace policies are being adopted at a rapid pace. This comes after years of efforts by activists from the healthcare industry, as well as a diverse assortment of activists that run the gamut of political ideologies.
The success of adopting these policies is a victory of David and Goliath proportion. These activists have, for years, found themselves battling Big Tobacco. The entire industry fueled untrue, misleading reports on the health and economic effects of smoking and smoking ordinances. And for years, business owners and politicians bought it hook, line, and sinker.
But, the economic argument began to slowly fall apart as the cities and States who enacted these policies early saw a rise in business revenue in most cases and rarely, if ever, a drop in revenue. Five years after implementation, New York City had actually seen an increase not only in revenue, but in the number of business licenses issued.
Perhaps the most important moment in the movement to create smokefree workplaces happened on June 27, 2006. On that day, the U.S. Surgeon General issued a comprehensive report, confirming the healthcare argument that smokefree advocates had been using for years. The report even went so far as to say that exposure to second hand smoke, even for a few minutes, posed a health risk.
Armed with this report, advocates aggressively pursued the policies that eluded them for years. And they are finding success. Finally. I believe that we are reaching a critical point, at which politicians find themselves comfortable enacting these important laws and ordinances. Soon, they will find themselves embarrassed if they don't.
Please consider contacting your City Council member or State Legislator and urge his/her support for smokefree workplace policies. It's not only a healthy thing to do, it's good for business. Except maybe for the drycleaner. :)