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Smoking Bans Since 1998

Jul 20, 2008
Smoking in restaurants, bars, and casinos is something which has long been a fixture in the food and entertainment industry. Often non-smokers avoided places which allowed smoking for both work and recreation. However in 1998 California became one of the first to pass a bill which outlawed smoking in casinos, bars, clubs and restaurants. In the last ten years, other states such as Arizona, Florida, New York and recently Oregon have followed California's example. In 2001 Oregon law makers argued both sides of the law, however it was passed by a reasonable margin. The main reasons the bill passed was attributed to the need for a healthy work environment and a smoke free zone for consumers who did not smoke.

Smoking use to be allowed in the work place for many years. However throughout the 80's and early 90's law makers in Oregon again worked to create a healthy work place by banning smoking at indoor job sites. However at the time, this legislation did not include outlawing smoking in bars, restaurants, casinos or bowling alleys. As more and more research came out regarding the health issues with second hand smoke, this issue was brought into the light, however there was no change. In 2001 Oregon decided it was time to create an equal law which would include workers in restaurants and bars. The new law makes smoking in any work place such as casinos or bowling allies illegal for all by 2009.

Dining out, club hopping, a bowling date, all of these things should be remembered as an experience, not as an experience in a cloud of smoke. In the past restaurant and bar owners offered both a non and smoking section. However after examining the filtration systems in restaurants, health officials reported increased chances of second hand smoke health problems. Smoke does not filter out to the outside because of the ventilation systems in buildings. This makes the smoke stale and thick. Many people avoid places such as these because of this one reason! Then once the health risks are added, no one wants to smell and have cancer at the same time! The only way to insure a healthy environment is to have smoking outside. This has an appeal to non-smokers because not only can they dine and actually smell their dinners but they can also not worry about developing other health risks. For restaurant workers, they are able to also rest easy and know their work environment is not causing them cancer.

Some opponents to the bill felt it was taking away the right for an adult to choose what they do to their own bodies. However what they failed to see what by smoking in public places the smoker is taking away the right for a non-smoker to be healthy. In Oregon a compromise was made, smoking would be allowed outdoors. While this does not agree with everyone on each side of the issue, it is a fair compromise for bars and restaurants which have outdoor seating available.

Being exposed to second hand smoke exposes non-smokers to all the same risks as if they smoked. They can develop lung cancer, emphysema, and asthma. Some feel by working in places where smoking is allowed such as bingo halls or clubs, the employee is knowingly exposing themselves to smoke and the health risks same with those who bring business to those places. However, previous legislation promised a smoke free work environment for all, not simply for those who can work a better job.

Health and fair working conditions are something Oregon law makers truly believe in. Oregon is taking strong steps toward those who are noncompliant with the new bill. There are fines and other consequences for those found to be in violation of the new law. No one should have to make the choice between having health problems and not simply so they can get a job or eat out.
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