Sunday, 5 September 2010

Barbados: anticipate the opposition!

Barbados will see a smoking ban from 1 October, and the local branch of the World Health Organisation, the Pan American Health Organisation, wants to ensure we are not under any misunderstanding about the necessity for comprehensive bans as opposed to any other form of solution. Their new publication Anticipate the Opposition is as predictable as the arguments it tries to refute, not least in its characterisation of all those who oppose the smoking bans as fronts for the tobacco industry:

Myth 1. Environmental tobacco smoke is just a nuisance.
Wrong. It is not just a nuisance, it is a health hazard. It causes at least 200,000 deaths a year in workplaces alone ... [calculated from guesswork about the amounts of exposure involved, and more guesswork about other confounding factors].

Myth 2. Voluntary agreements offer 'courtesy of choice': it is possible to accommodate smokers and non-smokers.
Wrong. This ignores the serious health consequences of SHS ... [the consequences that are only guessed at].

Myth 3. Ventilation systems protect non-smokers from the effects of SHS ...
Wrong. The tobacco industry has promoted the installation and use of expensive ventilation systems and equipment in an attempt to accommodate smokers and non-smokers in the same indoor enclosed spaces. [The reason that this is a better health alternative than a smoking ban is that modern equipment cleans air very effectively, not only of smoke but of other airborne pollutants. Getting rid of smoking only gets rid of the smoke but as many people will testify the air in pubs can still be very stale. Not surprisingly this paragraph refers to particles being 'deposited on furniture' before it can be ventilated.]

Myth 4. Smoke-free environments will never work.
Wrong. SFEs are widely supported by smokers and non-smokers, and if rightly enforced they work by protecting people from exposure to SHS. [They don't protect people from any other airborne pollution. On enforcement the levels of fine against landlords 'allowing' smoking are 50 times the fine for breaking the ban. In Barbados the ratio will be smaller, but still a significant deterrent to landlords who wish to accommodate their existing customers.]

Myth 5. SFEs result in lost businesses to restaurants and pubs.
Wrong. [followed by claims that all the 'good' studies find the overall economic situation unchanged for the hospitality sector and the economy. See opposite view from Michael Marlow, who claims not only that overall economic and hospitality trade figures mask large drops in specific sections of the hospitality industry, but also that bars are more likely to survive by flouting the ban, because it is in their interests to flout it.]

Myth 6. Smoking bans infringe smokers' rights and freedom of choice.
Wrong. Smoke free laws do not infringe anyone's rights. [Actually, they infringe everyone's rights. Even if their (declared) intention is about health, rights can be infringed as an unintended consequence. Smoking is legal, it is a recreational social pastime, smokers contribute plentifully to the public coffers and it is wrong to declare a public moratorium on a social activity, declare it's for the benefit of another group in society and deny that any wrong has been done to the smokers. This is infringement on the rights of hospitality traders and of the community in general (just as white civil liberties were oppressed by apartheid since it prevented them marrying black people ... they may not have cared about it in the main but their liberties were significantly curtailed by the doctrine of separate development).]


Hellraiser said...

This might be of interest.

Through the UN Ad Hoc Interagency Task Force on

Tobacco Control established in 1999, these agencies - including the Food and Agricultural Organisation, UNICEE, the International Labour Organisation, the World Bank and the World Trade Organisation are working together to reduce tobacco use.

The centrepiece of WHO’s tobacco control initiatives is the development of an International Treaty, the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC).

WHO Member States developed the concept of an International Treaty on tobacco to respond to Global problems that cannot be solved by national governments on their own, and to coordinate and facilitate action on tobacco control around the globe.

The Region of the Americas has much to gain from the FCTC. Most importantly, the FCTC will provide a platform for countries to discuss solutions to the tobacco problem.

The Multisectoral dialogue necessary to develop the FCTC will help remove barriers that have prevented progress in tobacco control, such as economic and agricultural concerns.

The FCTC also could facilitate the transfer of technical resources for tobacco control to developing countries, ensuring a more equitable response to the harm caused by tobacco use.

The FCTC will facilitate global solutions to those issues that cannot be fully resolved by national governments alone, such as tobacco smuggling and promotion. Harmonization of surveillance and research strategies will facilitate the development of information needed to identify priority areas and appropriate strategies for intervention.

Pan American Health Organisation.

Belinda said...

Thanks, Hellraiser. Are they interested in any other health problems?

Hellraiser said...

Not the paho but this site has all the info on Global Tobacco Control.