Wat nu in de VS gebeurt op anti-roken gebied kan binnen twee jaar ook hier doorzetten. Daarom is het belangrijk om de gebeurtenissen daar goed in de gaten te houden. En die gebeurtenissen moeten ons steeds meer zorgen baren.
Dronken door hun eerdere successen in deze staat hebben anti-rokenorganisaties in het stadje Calabasas in Californië weten door te drukken dat er in de gehele plaats NERGENS meer buiten gerookt mag worden. Uiteraard waren openbare ruimtes al eerder uitgesloten waardoor een roker die daar de deur uitgaat zich zal moeten onthouden van roken tot hij weer thuis is. Vreemd genoeg is alleen de lokale shopping mall (overdekt winkelcentrum) gedeeltelijk uitgesloten van deze wet. Bang dat een rookverbod ten koste zou gaan van de omzet van de winkeliers?
In het plaatsje Melbourne in Florida heeft het lokale gemeentebestuur in al haar wijsheid besloten om rokers die solliciteren al bij voorbaat uit te sluiten. En dit ondanks dat de stad Noord-Miami in diezelfde staat al in 2003 had besloten eenzelfde driejarig verbod op de inhuur van rokers op te heffen omdat men niet meer in staat was gekwalificeerd personeel te vinden.
En in de staat Colorado ligt er een voorstel om diverse kankers van rokers niet meer te behandelen…
Dissidente anti-rokenonderzoeker Dr. Michael Siegel becommentarieerde beide acties en vreest voor het einde van de anti-rokenbeweging als men zo door gaat:
The Calabasas (California) City Council voted to give initial approval to an ordinance that bans smoking in all outdoors areas of the city, including streets and sidewalks. The ordinance, which is being supported by at least one prominent anti-smoking group — Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) — would not allow a person to smoke on any street or sidewalk unless there was no other person within 20 feet who was not smoking at the same time or who consented to that individual smoking.
The expressed purpose of the ordinance is to protect nonsmokers from exposure to secondhand smoke and to “assure a cleaner and more hygienic environment for the City, its residents, and its natural resources, including its creeks and streams.” In addition, it is intended to reduce “the potential for children to associate smoking and tobacco with a healthy lifestyle,” to protect “the public from smoking and tobacco-related litter and pollution,” and to promote “the family-friendly atmosphere of the City’s public places.”
The prohibition of smoking in public places is quite broad and includes “any public or private place open to the general public … including, for example, streets, sidewalks, plazas, bars, restaurants, clubs, stores, stadiums, parks, playgrounds, taxis and buses.” Residential property is not included, nor are 20% of the guest rooms in hotels and motels. But unless specifically exempted, “smoking is prohibited everywhere in the city.”
The Rest of the Story
Before discussing the merit of this broad ban on smoking almost everywhere in Calabasas, let’s get right to the rest of the story:
The Calabasas City Council is so hypocritical that it is banning smoking on streets and sidewalks in the name of addressing the terrible problem of smoke drifting along outdoors and exposing a nonsmoker transiently, yet it is specifically allowing smoking at a place where hundreds of its residents congregate: The Calabasas Commons shopping mall!!!
This is not a joke! I’m quite serious. The City Council apparently thinks secondhand smoke is so bad that it cannot allow smokers to walk down the street with a cigarette and it is apparently so concerned about kids seeing people setting a bad example by smoking in public that it will not even allow a smoker to light up in a parking lot. However, secondhand smoke is not so bad that people cannot light up at a crowded mall, nor is it such a bad example that the City would want to disallow smoking at its premiere retail establishment.
There’s only one way I can think of to explain this hypocrisy. The policy makers in Calabasas are putting on a great show with all their talk about the hazards of secondhand smoke and they’re willing to infringe upon smokers in places where exposure to this hazard is low and quite transient. But when it really comes down to it, they don’t want to take any risk that the city could lose money if fewer people shop at the Mall. After all, health is really important, but not when it threatens to compete with the city’s financial health.
The city of Melbourne (Florida) is considering adding its name to the growing list of employers who refuse to hire smokers. According to a proposal the City Council is now considering: “Applicants would be asked about tobacco use during pre-employment screening — and smokers would get dropped from further consideration.”
The purpose of the policy is to prevent nonsmoking employees from having to offset the health care costs of smoking employees.
According to the City Manager: “I think it’s a good path to explore, and it makes a lot of sense. It is very odd that — 50 years after the surgeon general said, ‘smoking’s bad, don’t do this, smoking’s bad, it’s not healthy,’ — that we’re still having that conversation.”
The Rest of the Story
Interestingly, another Florida city – North Miami – instituted a similar policy in 1990. However, after 13 years of experience with the policy, the city dropped it because officials realized they were having trouble recruiting enough qualified applicants and were turning some otherwise outstanding applicants away: “‘We were having difficulty recruiting qualified police officers, and we felt this policy may have prevented some good candidates from applying,’ said Rebecca Jones, North Miami director of personnel administration.”
And that is precisely why Melbourne’s proposed policy is wrong. Because it judges potential applicants based not on their individual qualifications for the job, but on the group to which they belong, it represents employment discrimination.
While it may be true that on a statistical basis, smokers cost an employer more than nonsmokers, on an individual basis this is most certainly not true. The healthiest smoker clearly is going to cost less than the least healthy nonsmoker.
A bill introduced by state Senator Ron Teck into the Colorado legislature this session would phase out state funding for treatment of head, neck, and lung cancer caused by smoking, according to an article in the Daily Sentinel.
Senate Bill 101, which is expected to be considered in committee tomorrow, would deny publicly funded medical treatment to victims of these cancers who obtained these diseases because of smoking, with a gradual phase-out of funding based on the year individuals started smoking: “Senate Bill 101 would incrementally phase out medical benefits over a 20-year period. The state would continue to pick up the treatment tab of anyone who started smoking or using tobacco products before 1975. The percentage of treatment costs covered by the state would drop 5 percent every year after 1975. That means a person who didn’t start smoking or using tobacco products until 1985 would receive half of what the state now pays for the treatment of their smoking-related condition.”
This essentially means that anyone who starts smoking from now on will be denied coverage for treatment of lung cancer in Colorado if their diseases are deemed due to smoking and if they do not have private medical insurance.
How would the state know if a person’’s lung cancer was due to smoking? According to Senator Teck, oncologists “can, with 100 percent confidence, ID people who have incurred these diseases from smoking.”
The reason Teck gives for introducing this legislation is that it is unfair for taxpayers to subsidize health care costs for smokers.
The Rest of the Story
While this proposal is so ludicrous and inhumane that it will hopefully not garner any serious consideration, the very fact that Teck was able to introduce this legislation without fear of being made a laughing stock in Colorado is quite concerning.
And I fear that we (anti-smoking advocates and organizations) have something to do with that.
It is, after all, the active promotion as well as passive support by anti-smoking groups of policies that discriminate against smokers in the name of helping to improve their health and to save money for employers and nonsmoking workers and taxpayers that has paved the way to make the introduction of such an inhumane and sickening proposal possible.