What is secondhand smoke exactly and what are the effects it has on nonsmokers? Second hand smoke is a mixture of the smoke given off by the burning end of a cigarette, pipe, or cigar, and the smoke exhaled from the lungs of smokers. This mixture contains more than four thousand substances, more than forty of which are known to cause cancer in humans and many of which are irritants. Secondhand smoke is estimated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to cause approximately three thousand lung cancer deaths in U.S. nonsmokers each year. (EPA) It is time that restaurant employees and customers are provided the same protection we have in all other public places and workplaces. As a result of the thousands of deaths which occur each year from secondhand smoke, smoking in restaurants should be banned.
Oklahoma will be only the fifth state in the nation to impose tough restrictions on smoking in public. The bill, which will restrict smoking in public workplaces and restaurants, won't go into full compliance until September of 2006. This gives restaurants a delay before they are required to either add separately ventilated areas or go completely smoke free. Governor Henry said he would sign the legislation, saying it "represents a common-sense approach to a very important health issue." (Freerepublic.com) Opponents believe that this upcoming law violates individual rights and say that secondhand smoke risks have been exaggerated, but looking at the simple facts and the grueling effects of it, why should there be an individual right to destroy someone else's health? Exposure to secondhand smoke kills an estimated 750 nonsmokers in Oklahoma each year. It also causes many cases of bronchitis, pneumonia, inner ear infection, and asthma in infants and children. House Representative, Ray Vaughn, puts into a very interesting perspective stating, "This bill doesn't regulate what kind of customers a restaurant owner can have, what it does is regulate conduct.