Wednesday, November 16, 2005

As Hennepin County Minnesota looks to amend the smoking ban which has caused financial devastation to the local hospitality industry......

My disappointment is that from the beginning....nobody really listened to the debate that should have been going on...Is secondhand smoke a hazard? After all that is what the non-profits' and physicians' argument in favor of a smoking ban was based upon.

Instead we listened to oncologists who treated smokers with cancer, or studies financed by the pharmaceutical nicotine industry which stated..."we believe..." "it is estimated..." "it is speculated..." etc. They can't even keep their own exaggerations straight, one day they report secondhand smoke claims 3,000 lives nationally per year....the next day they say 38,000....and the next they claim 65,000. Perhaps they have to continually inch those numbers upward because with 1400+ jobs lost in Hennepin County due to the smoking ban...."3000" nationwide seems like a pretty insignificant number.

A ban on secondhand smoke is supposed to be based on answering the question of secondhand smoke is it a health hazard? And clearly the test results from the Environmental Health department of St. Louis Park, MN. and the California EPA prove secondhand smoke is not a health hazard as defined by OSHA.

SLP results were 1 - 33 micrograms/ cu. M. which is 500 - 15 times safer than OSHA requires; the median reading was 152 times safer than OSHA requirements . (measurement of indoor air quality in bars/ restaurants)

CA EPA results 0.01 - 5 micrograms / cu. M . which is 50,000 - 100 times safer than OSHA requires (measurement of outdoor air quality in smoking areas).

OSHA permissible exposure limit level for nicotine* is 0.5 milligrams / cu. M which = 500 micrograms / cu. M

* (As per air quality researchers) Nicotine is the only unique or "trace" chemical in secondhand smoke. If you measured for formaldehyde, the carpet and other interior sources of formaldehyde would corrupt the test result, formaldehyde is formed naturally in our atmosphere due to photochemical oxidation. Benzene is given off from burning foods in the kitchen or diesel exhaust outdoors so again a false reading would be obtained. Therefore, nicotine is the ideal chemical to measure for to determine secondhand smoke concentrations in the air. And then our comparison to OSHA guidelines is the logical manner in which to determine if secondhand smoke levels pose a health hazard, as you can see they do not.

And after all, lawmakers are content to allow OSHA air quality standards to regulate our factories where workers are exposed to welding and plasma smoke, oil mist and other process emissions at concentrations MUCH heavier and more carcinogenic than tobacco smoke.

The question is, do county commissioners and local politicians care less about the health of our factory workers than they do about the health of our restaurant and bar workers? Will lawmakers demand bans on all workplace procedures that do not also exceed OSHA safety guidelines by a factor of 152 times? Because if you do not apply the standards with equal measure then you open up new litigious grounds regarding the laws you arbitrarily enforce on one industry, yet not another.

Update: New air quality testing of secondhand smoke by the American Cancer Society proves levels are 25,000 times safer than OSHA permissible exposure other words no health hazard.

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