"Health impact of secondhand smoke on bar staff
For many, the clinching argument in favour of a ban on SIPPs was the supposed evidence that SHS presented a measurable health risk to those exposed to it.
There is an enormous amount of published research on the possible health risks of SHS, showing varying and contradictory results.
There is an ongoing epidemiological debate about the risks, if any, of exposure to SHS. Probably the main report affecting public policy on SIPS in the United Kingdom was the Scientific Committee on Tobacco and Health (SCOTH) report published in November 2004.
SCOTH concluded that the increased risk of contracting lung cancer for those exposed to SHS was 24% and for heart disease was 25%.
Even if these numbers are accepted, they are utterly trivial compared to the risks we are willing to accept – or expose others to - in many other areas of our lives.
For example, according to Cancer Research UK, the increased risk of contracting lung cancer if you work in a profession that regularly exposes you to diesel fumes is 47% - twice that of exposure to SHS assumed in SCOTH.
Those living in areas with high levels of nitrogen oxide (usually caused by vehicle emissions) have an increased chance of about 33% of contracting lung cancer. (emphasis mine)
Workers in the ship-building or construction industry have been estimated to have an increased chance of contracting lung cancer of up to 50% - twice that assumed for workers exposed to SHS by SCOTH.
One study even suggests that women who don’t smoke, but have a wood-burning fire at home, may have an increased risk of lung disease in excess of 300%. (emphasis mine)
A French study in 2003 suggested a typical barbecue in one’s garden releases the same number of dioxins that would be emitted from 220,000 cigarettes. (emphasis mine)
So, even if one accepts the SCOTH report’s numbers on the increased risk suffered by those working in smoke-filled pubs and clubs, these risks pale into utter insignificance compared to risks we readily and unquestionably accept elsewhere.
Furthermore, any presumed risk - to those working in environments with SHS - needs to be compared to the alternative. In a deteriorating economy, the alternative for many of those who no longer work in pubs and clubs is measurably less income as a result of unemployment.
In terms of overall public health, there is no evidence to suggest that the SIPPs ban has reduced the overall smoking rate. In fact, in Scotland, smoking has risen amongst the 16-24 year old age group since the ban was imposed.
The conclusion is clear. Even if one accepts the evidence of the SCOTH report, the risks do not justify a comprehensive, blanket ban on SIPPs. This is likely to hit already low paid bar staff, who are risk losing their jobs, hardest."
For more information visit the site Amend the Smoking Ban.
10 hours ago