Sunday, August 13, 2006

Smoke-free movement gains some traction

When Elaine Paul’s mother was diagnosed with breast cancer six years ago, doctors asked Stella Paul if she smoked.

When the Elgin woman said no, doctors then asked what she did for a living.

“When my mother said she had been in the restaurant business all her life, they said, ‘Well, you’re a smoker,’ because there is a link between secondhand smoke and breast cancer,” Elaine said. (Daily Herald 8/13/06)

Good work, Daily Herald. Stories like this underline the fact that the smoke-free movement is not about smokers but the workers and other innocent bystanders who are exposed to secondhand smoke, which causes cancer.

“It isn’t as simple as saying, ‘Every public restaurant needs to go smoke-free,’æ” Schock said. “Like every community, we’ll have a list of exceptions.”

Schock said the most likely exception in Elgin would be the Grand Victoria Casino. (Daily Herald 8/13/06)

Exempting the casino would be problematic. The casino is obviously the largest employer of workers who are continually exposed to secondhand smoke. Exempting it would mean that 90% of the workers who suffer from secondhand smoke will receive no relief. If the choice is between money and human lives, we should expect the mayor to choose life.

I can see why he's worried, but I think he's overrating the risk to the casino's revenues. People go there TO GAMBLE, not to smoke. People go to restaurants TO EAT, not to smoke. People go to bars and clubs TO SOCIALIZE not smoke. I saw this first hand in New York City when the smoke free ordinance went into effect there and everybody was predicting a doom and gloom that never arrived.

The city will hold a hearing on August 30th. See the Smoke Free Elgin website for more details.


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