As discussed in a Star front page story a couple of weeks ago, smoking is now banned in all indoor areas of NSW pubs, clubs and other venues. Smokers will still be able to enjoy a drink and a smoke, as long as they are outside. It’s been a long time coming but now non-smokers are able to enjoy a night out smoke-free.

Smoking is currently banned in bars in places like New York, California, Ireland, New Zealand and Norway. In 2005 legislation was introduced in the Irish Republic. Those laws have made smoking illegal in pubs, restaurants and other enclosed workplaces across Ireland, with offenders now facing substantial fines. Although there was great concern about what the new laws would do to the pub culture and resulting business, the laws appeared to cause very little disruption and life has gone on as usual. In fact, there is some evidence to suggest that far from putting people off attending venues, smoke-free pubs and bars have attracted a whole new clientele.

Smokers take a health risk every time they choose to light up. That is their decision and their choice. But just as smokers have a right to smoke, non-smokers also have the right to fresh air. More than eight out of every 10 people in Australia choose not to smoke, although for a long time it didn’t always feel like that when you visited licensed premises. In Australia we have over 19,000 tobacco-related deaths per year – that is over 80 percent of all drug-related deaths. Just to give you an idea of how much passive smoking can affect you: being in a room in which there are smokers means being exposed to at least 50 agents known to cause cancer and other chemicals that increase blood pressure, damage the lungs and cause abnormal kidney function.

Exposure to passive smoke is also known as environmental tobacco smoke (or involuntary smoking). Passive smoke is a combination of some sidestream and exhaled mainstream smoke in the air. Sidestream smoke is that which originates from the burning cigarette and is the main component of passive smoke. Whereas mainstream smoke is filtered by the cigarette filter and the smoker’s lungs, sidestream smoke is not. It is therefore unfiltered and produced at a much lower temperature, resulting in fewer poisons being filtered out or burnt off. As a result, sidestream smoke contains a higher concentration of the harmful substances inhaled by smokers.

Passive smoking extends into the home as well. Research into the health of non-smoking members of smoking households shows the non-smoker’s overall cancer risk rises along with the number of smoking household members. Just as frightening is the research into the health of smoking/ non-smoking couples. This shows that there is an increased risk of lung cancer in the non-smoking partners of smokers. Scary stuff for both parties!

Remember: if you do not want any negative consequences, do not use the drug and, no matter how many times you have used a substance, never be blasé.

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