Secondhand Smoke and
the Hospitality Industry
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.
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 (similar to a central air system, HVAC) 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 there. Not only is secondhand smoke a serious
problem, but then when you consider that proper ventilation is not routinely
enforced nor are all codes followed, it is no wonder that people become ill.
“Non-smoking does not mean smoke free.”
The issue is that even with special sections designated for non-smokers, the
smoke still flows in the air of the designated non-smoking area; meaning the
risk of lung cancer, respiratory infection, asthma, and other major illnesses is
still very real.
“Your favorite hangout could be a serious health risk!”
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.
Attention to those in the Hospitality Industry
Unfortunately, for the individuals working in the hospitality industry, a large
majority are stuck with being exposed to this secondhand smoke. 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. Among these
are servers, bartenders, hotel employees, and management in the hospitality
industry. 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.
The Government is fighting Tobacco companies with lawsuits.
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.
Changing the rules for 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