September 20, 2004

Clear the Air

I've had more than one person view me strangely when I give the condition of "non-smoking restaurant" for lunch or dinner plan making. That means no indoor smoking. None. Nada. This isn't so easy in the St. Louis Metro Area (must simpler where my mother lives - Springfield, and usually simpler on business trips, strangely), but there are some places. The list is published by Tobacco-Free Missouri, known on the web as breathe easy Missouri. These people are so anti-tobacco that they refuse to spell it correctly in all instances.

Ryan, a frequent lunch partner, pointed me to this Post-Dispatch article.
TRENTON, N.J. (AP) -- Which is more harmful to your health -- a smoky bar or a city street filled with diesel truck fumes? Well, you might want to skip your next happy hour.

Smoky bars and casinos have up to 50 times more cancer-causing particles in the air than highways and city streets clogged with diesel trucks at rush hour, according to a study that also shows indoor air pollution virtually disappears once smoking is banned.

Conducted by the researcher who first showed secondhand smoke causes thousands of U.S. lung cancer deaths each year, the study found casino and bar workers are exposed to particulate pollution at far greater levels than the government allows outdoors.
And, yes, sing it with me, cancer once is PLENTY, thankyouverymuch. No smoky bars or casinos for me. I'm past thirty - time to seriously evaluate health.

Repace tested air in a casino, a pool hall and six taverns in Delaware in November 2002 and in January 2003, two months after the state imposed a strict indoor smoking ban.

His detectors measured two substances blamed for tobacco-related cancers: a group of chemicals called particulate polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, or PPAHs, and respirable particles -- airborne soot small enough to penetrate the lungs.

"They are the most dangerous" substances in secondhand smoke, said Repace, a visiting assistant clinical professor at Tufts University School of Medicine in Boston.

Repace said his research also showed that ventilation systems -- sometimes touted by tavern, restaurant and casino groups as an alternative to smoking bans -- cannot exchange air fast enough to keep up with the smoke.
The rest of it is technical detail - still interesting, but this is enough to get the gist. And I smile again at my decision. I'm a much happier diner than I was 8 months ago before I put my foot down. I've been in smoking-allowed restaurants 3 times since then, twice on business (where I recognize I really don't have absolute control) and once on vacation.


Posted by hln at September 20, 2004 09:32 PM | Health | TrackBack

To be fair - smoking is not an illegal activity - so I think there should be 2 clearly marked categories of restaurants and bars. Smoking and non-smoking. People would then be able to patronize the type of place they feel most comfortable using. I am not a smoker and yes I've had a bout with cancer about 15 years ago. I figure people can and will kill themselves in their own way. Just let me get out of the way while they do it. I have no intention of preaching to people who already know what they're doing is harmful - waste of breath. In the meantime, I would love to be able to eat at a restaurant that is not only smoke free but serves fresh, additive free food too... oh well, guess I'll spend my time eating mostly at home. *grin*

Posted by: Teresa at September 21, 2004 12:21 PM