Uniformly Protecting U.S. Workers from the Health Risks of Second-Hand Smoke Exposure
Keywords: second-hand smoke, workers, health risks, indoor smoking bans, United States, environmental tobacco smoke, ETS, public health legislation, Washington, DC, workplace
AbstractA preponderance of evidence conclusively demonstrates the severe health risk posed by secondhand smoke, or environmental tobacco smoke (ETS). While this evidence has led to the passage of indoor smoking bans in office buildings and many other indoor public places, in many states, workers in the hospitality industry still face toxic second-hand smoke every time they go to work. This article argues that policymakers must develop comprehensive smoke-free legislation for all indoor public spaces, including all indoor workplaces. Contrary to the arguments put forth by restaurant and tobacco industry interest groups, indoor smoking bans significantly diminish public health risks, provide equitable protection for all workers, increase healthcare and productivity savings, and have minimal, if any, negative economic impact on businesses and overall tax revenues. Washington D.C.'s experience illustrates how policymakers can pass this vital public health legislation despite procedural roadblocks and interest group politics.