Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

From Beaches to Bars, Fight Flares over Smoking in Public ; Two New Studies Looking at Effects of Secondhand Smoke Are Likely to Fuel the Movement for More Bans

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

From Beaches to Bars, Fight Flares over Smoking in Public ; Two New Studies Looking at Effects of Secondhand Smoke Are Likely to Fuel the Movement for More Bans

Article excerpt

The fight over secondhand smoke is heating up anew.

One study, which is likely to be published in the next few days, is expected to show a decrease in health problems when workplaces in one Montana town went smoke free.

And a major new study, released Tuesday, finds that more than half of US food-service workers, the nation's fourth largest occupation, have no protection from cigarette smoke. The report, issued by the American Legacy Foundation, which promotes antismoking policies, found that in general blue-collar and service workers are lagging compared with white-collar employees. Rates of cancer and respiratory diseases are higher among blue-collar and service workers, and their medical expenses are considerably higher.

"We're hoping this study will further accelerate a trend that is already accelerating, that is that more people are covered by smoke- free laws for their employment," says Cheryl Healton, president of the Legacy Foundation, which is based in Washington.

So far, five states - California, Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, and New York - mandate that all places of employment be smoke free. A Massachusetts law is waiting for the governor's signature, and new legislation is moving through the Georgia statehouse. Florida, Idaho, and Utah include most restaurants and some bars in antismoking legislation. And scores of individual communities from Whitehorse, Alaska, to Lexington, Ky., are now smoke free. Several towns in California have made headlines for banning smoking on beaches.

The debate is likely to heat up even more in the next few days after the publication of a study of smoking in Helena, Mont. The study is expected to show that when the city's workplaces went smoke free, the heart-attack rate dropped in half. After a judge reversed the smoke-free move, the rate went back up.

"It was not a scientific study but a natural study," says Ms. Healton.

The issue of banning smoking in restaurants and bars has been contentious for years. …

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