I wish to urge the government to consider banning smoking in outdoor eating areas. My reasons are founded on exposing the public to second-hand smoking, supporting the smokers to quit the act, and reduction of young one's exposure to smoking. It is important to the public health to ensure the outdoor dining areas are smoke-free which can only be achieved practically by the government intervention. Points of concern also are the effects of the act to pregnant women and individuals suffering from respiratory conditions. Additionally, as health practitioners we are concerned with the welfare of the staff working in these areas as they have to consider their business.
One of my major concerns regarding smoking in the public outdoor dining areas is that it exposes the public in general to second-hand smoking which is considered equally dangerous as the original act (Fu et al., 2016). Additionally, the welfare of the staff working in these areas is challenged as they are equally exposed to acute health conditions such as asthma and irritation. There is also a risk of exposing the public to chronic health conditions such as lung cancer. To the children, the effects include track infections and reduced lung functions (Hill, 2016). Children are considered the most affected since their breathing rate are high per body weight. Also, they are usually unable to remove themselves from the smoking environment. Although for second-hand smoking to occur the quality of air must reduce to certain levels which are rare in unenclosed place, there are certain outdoor conditions which can reflect second-hand smoking for instance when there are several people are smoking (Sureda et al., 2013). The health sector is also concerned about people suffering from chronic illnesses such as lung cancer and other respiratory conditions (Bayer & Bachynski, 2013). Being a public place, these people are often exposed to the reduced air quality which may have an effect on their health
Our children and youth future is also challenged when smoking is allowed in the outdoor dining area where all ages are present. Youths at an adolescent age and children need to be prevented from areas that may trigger smoking experimentation (Tomazin, 2015). Besides, it is noted that most people who are addicted to smoking began at a young age. Enacting smoke-free dining policies will sensitize that the act is not a socially desirable behaviour (Thomson et al., 2013). Additionally, it can be used to support individuals aiming at quitting smoking and preventing relapses. Also, it is important to the starters as both the opportunity and cues are reduced. To the current smokers, this will reduce their consumption rate. One important aspect of smoking is that most of the people engaging in the act tend to quit together and also as one is present in areas where there is smoking, the more the chances that they will also engage in the act.
There are people working in the outdoor eating areas where customer preferences vary. There are those who would not have an issue with people smoking in public. However, a larger percentage will not consider dining in such areas (Bayer & Bachynski, 2013). This puts the business and the staff working in these areas in an awkward position of convincing potential customers to stay. On the other hand, a management decision to ban the act also puts away customers who may want to smoke (Staples, 2015). This hurts the economic background of the dining areas. However, if the ban is made by the government, it means that everyone has to comply thus an advantage to the business.
In conclusion, it is the request and position of the public health sector for the government to consider banning smoking in outdoor dining areas since this is affecting our society in several ways. For instance the young people are at risk of smoking due to their experimentation adolescent age. Implementing such a policy will also protect businesses as the staff will not have to explain themselves to the customers on why or not people are smoking. It will be a mutual ground for everyone irrespective of their health conditions.
Bayer, R., & Bachynski, K. E. (2013). Banning smoking in parks and on beaches: Science, policy, and the politics of denormalization. Health Affairs,32(7), 1291-1298.
Fu, M., Fernandez, E., Martinez-Sanchez, J. M., San Emeterio, N., Quiros, N., Sureda, X., ... & Salto, E. (2016). Second-hand smoke exposure in indoor and outdoor areas of cafes and restaurants: Need for extending smoking regulation outdoors?. Environmental research, 148, 421-428.
Hill, D. (2016). 15.7 legislation to ban smoking in public spaces. Retrieved August 13, 2016, from http://www.tobaccoinaustralia.org.au/15-7-legislation
Staples, C. A. H. (2015). Restaurant and bar owners and managers respond to North Carolina's smoke-free law, electronic cigarette use inside their businesses, and smoke-free outdoor seating areas.
Sureda, X., Fernandez, E., Lopez, M. J., & Nebot, M. (2013). Secondhand tobacco smoke exposure in open and semi-open settings: a systematic review. Environmental Health Perspectives (Online), 121(7), 766.
Thomson, G., Russell, M., Jenkin, G., Patel, V., & Wilson, N. (2013). Informing outdoor smokefree policy: methods for measuring the proportion of people smoking in outdoor public areas. Health & place, 20, 19-24.
Tomazin, F. (2015, August 22). Lights out for smoking in outdoor dining areas. Retrieved August 13, 2016, from Victoria, http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/lights-out-for-smoking-in-outdoor-dining-areas-20150822-gj5c9x.html
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