Magazine article Risk Management

Smoking Gun

Magazine article Risk Management

Smoking Gun

Article excerpt

Time and time again we hear how life-threatening the effects of cigarettes and tobacco are. Studies reinforcing this fact have repeatedly shown that employees who smoke are prone to decreased productivity as it increases absenteeism and health costs. But the implementation of smoking bans in the workplace remains as elusive as ever, even with tobacco still atop the list of preventable killers. The Department of Health and Human Services recently announced that by 2020, it hopes to enact smoking prohibitions in all workplaces, but history has shown that the battle against the cigarette and tobacco industry is not so easily won.

Federal Excise Tax on Tobacco


Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton was the first to propose an excise tax on the sale of tobacco products to raise federal revenue. Although the tax was originally met with public resistance, it turned out to be profitable for the young nation, accounting for more than 30% of tax dollars by the end of the 19th century. Cigarettes were subsequently singled out for tax increases throughout the Civil War.

Surgeon General Report


Growing concerns about the link between smoking and lung cancer prompted U.S. Surgeon General Luther Terry to release an advisory committee report in 1964. Drawing on thousands of medical studies, the report confirmed suspicions that cigarette smoking was indeed hazardous. As a result, cigarette packages were fitted with warning labels and advertising became restricted. Unfortunately, tobacco companies found ways to circumvent the new policies, using clever methods to market to America's youth.

Public Smoking Bans


Minnesota became the first state to ban smoking in public places with the Minnesota Clean Indoor Air Act of 1975. Many states followed suit, including California, which enacted a controversial ban of smoking in bars, and New York, which extended anti-smoking regulations to include restaurants and clubs. (In 2011 New York City's ban reached public parks and beaches). By 2009, 37 states were practicing some form of smoking prohibition. …

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