Lawsuits are becoming more common in the
hospitality industry due to the potential hazardous health effects of employees
and patrons exposure to secondhand tobacco smoke.
OSHA concludes that secondhand
smoke is not controlled by ventilation.
Recently, a group of ventilation experts hired by
OSHA made a
discovery that dilution ventilation, which is something used in just about every
mechanically ventilated building does not control secondhand smoke in the
hospitality industry, which would include nightclubs, restaurants, bars,
casinos, and so on. With this finding, it quickly became apparent that a new and
more advanced form of technology was needed.
Although many states now have strict rules about smoking in restaurants, other
hospitality industries still have unlimited smoking, which means non-smokers
either cannot visit those places or they have to accept that they are placing
their health at risk by going. Not only is secondhand smoke a serious problem,
but when you consider that proper ventilation is not routinely enforced nor are
all codes followed, it is no wonder that people become sick.
The problem is that even with special sections designated for non-smokers, the
smoke still flows in the air breathed meaning the risk of lung cancer,
respiratory infection, asthma, and other major illnesses is still very real.
The air nicotine levels for bars, restaurants, casinos, smoking lounges, bowling
alleys, and nightclubs is still a huge problem. In fact, even with improved
ventilation and new means of control technology, it is still estimated that the
risk of lung cancer and heart disease for workers in the hospitality industry is
between 15% and 25% MORE than the significant risk level established by OSHA.
Unfortunately, for the individuals working in the hospitality industry, a large
majority are stuck. Within this industry, you often find workers that do not
have a college degree, single parents that need flexible hours, college
students, and other individuals that are not afraid of hard work but unable to
work in other industries. For these people, while they love the work they do,
they have no choice but to go to work every day and breathe in secondhand smoke.
The good news is that many of these hospitality workers are now fighting back
through lawsuits or lobbying to change laws. While there have been a number of
unsuccessful lawsuits over the years filed by smokers against tobacco companies,
today we see more and more non-smokers standing up for their rights to enjoy
public places without having to put them or their family at health risk.
One such lawsuit was filed that soon became the “mother of all tobacco
lawsuits”. With this case, the trial began on September 21 in Washington, DC and
after five years, $135 million dollars of public money was spent just in
gathering evidence. This lawsuit consisted of the United States Government
facing off with the big tobacco companies. However, smaller lawsuits have been
cropping up more and more in the past few years from individuals tired of
breathing secondhand smoke.
For example, in 1998, there were lawsuits filed from 46 of the states against
tobacco companies, resulting in a payout of more than $256 billion. Because more
people are speaking out, the U.S. government is paying attention. In fact,
governmental lawyers are now supporting non-smokers, trying to prove that
tobacco companies committed fraudulent acts by deceiving the public for the past
50 years about the dangers of smoking, let alone secondhand smoke.
The challenge with secondhand smoke and the hospitality industry is that lawyers
for major tobacco companies say intent to mislead or defraud non-smokers sets
the bar way too high. Although this challenge is massive and will take many
years to resolve, what it does show is that workers in the hospitality industry,
as well as people that enjoy frequenting these types of establishes are in fact
tired of having to breathe polluted air.
In addition to government backing, many organizations have been formed to
educate the public about secondhand smoke and to change the rules for public
smoking. The new bans that are going into effect here in the United States along
with other countries around the globe include tobacco advertising, sponsorship,
and promotion. This includes changing the packaging and labeling on tobacco
products, rewording deceptive terminology, establishing smoke-free areas within
the hospitality industry, fighting tobacco smuggling, increasing tobacco taxes,
promoting public health, and other measures to protect non-smokers in the
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About the author / resource box:
Dr. Craig Donnelly founded BPA Air Quality Solutions / BreathePureAir.com as a
result of his experience with his patients, many of whom suffered from
allergies, asthma and airborne environmental sensitivities. Having been
diagnosed with asthma himself, Dr. Craig understood about the origin of the
health consequences many of his patients experienced on a daily basis from
breathing contaminated indoor air . BreathePureAir.com specializes in home air
purifiers, commercial air cleaners
eaters and industrial air purifiers