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PARIS SMOKING BAN: A DOCTOR’S PERSPECTIVE by Dr. Sucharu Chris Prakash, MD

Dr. Chris Prakash, eParisExtra columnist
Dr. Chris Prakash, eParisExtra columnist

As a physician who sees the ill effects from smoking every day, I am glad that the proposed city wide smoking ban may become a reality in Paris, TX. We are all well aware of the dangers of smoking. I am not going to waste your time by reiterating the statistics about the toll that smoking takes on peoples’ health. However, I would like to talk about the hazards of second hand smoke, and third hand smoke, as well as discuss the potential effect of such a ban on our local businesses.

Facts about Second hand Smoke

Second hand smoke is the smoke and other airborne products that come from being close to burning tobacco such as from cigarettes.

 Most exposure to secondhand smoke occurs in homes and workplaces, but a significant exposure also occurs in public places such as restaurants and bars.

 Eliminating smoking in indoor spaces is the only way to fully protect nonsmokers from secondhand smoke exposure.

 Separating areas where smokers can smoke (from nonsmokers), opening windows, and ventilating buildings does not eliminate secondhand smoke exposure.

 There is no risk-free level of contact with secondhand smoke. Even brief exposure can be harmful to health.

What is Third hand Smoke?

Third hand smoke is considered to be the residual nicotine and other chemicals left on surfaces such as clothes, furniture, drapes, walls, bedding, carpets, vehicles etc. This residue reacts with indoor pollutants creating a toxic mix. This toxic mix contains carcinogens, posing a potential health hazard to nonsmokers who are exposed to it, especially children. Third hand smoke is a relatively new concept, and all its possible dangers are not known.

Third hand smoke residue builds up on surfaces over time and resists normal cleaning. This smoke cannot be removed by opening windows, using fans or air conditioners, or confining smoking to only certain areas. The only way to protect nonsmokers from third hand smoke is to create a smoke-free environment.

Health Hazards of Second hand Smoke

 Lung Cancer – Secondhand smoke contains more than 4,000 substances, several of which are known to cause lung cancer and other cancers. EPA estimates that exposure to secondhand smoke causes approximately 3,000 lung cancer deaths per year in nonsmokers.

 Second hand smoke increases the risk of heart disease (coronary disease).

 Serious Health Risks to Children – Children are particularly vulnerable to the effects of secondhand smoke for a variety of reasons. These risks include Asthma, increased risk of pneumonia and bronchitis, middle ear infections, and also increased risk for SIDS (Sudden infant death syndrome). Exposure to secondhand smoke can even trigger asthma attacks and make asthma symptoms more severe.

Effect of smoking ban on Hospitality Industry

We all want businesses in Paris to thrive. So, will the public smoking ban adversely affect local restaurants and bars? Evidence says No! Several peer-reviewed studies have examined objective measures such as taxable sales revenue and employment levels across various cities in the US, and have found that smoke-free policies and regulations DO NOT have an adverse economic impact on the hospitality industry.

In fact, a study of hospitality revenues in El Paso, Texas (2002), found that there was no decline in total revenue at restaurants and bars during the first year after the city adopted a smoking ban in all workplaces and public places.

Right to Smoke

Smokers feel that they have the right to smoke anywhere and at any time they want. They feel that they are only hurting themselves. However, as the data above proves, non smokers are at equal or greater risk from their act.

So, I hope that we will all do the right thing and support the city wide smoking ban, not only for our health and our childrens’ well being, but for the long term prosperity of the city.

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