Although there’s significant progress on this issue, there are still states that allow smoking in bars and restaurants. Smoking in bars and restaurants is an old habit that has proven to be very difficult to eradicate. Smokers still want to enjoy their food and drinks while having the option to light a cigarette. If that’s something that gives them pleasure, then it’s their choice, however, non-smokers who are exposed to secondhand smoke might disagree with this. Secondhand smoke (SHS) is very harmful to the people who are exposed to it. Tobacco smoke contains a lot of harmful chemicals and toxins that can cause cancer, but apart from this, SHS can also cause infections, asthma, and respiratory problems. That’s why this issue deserves a lot of attention and debate.
Secondhand smoke exposure notes a steady decline in the United States. According to the statistics of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), exposure to SHS for non-smokers declined from 87.9% in 1991 to 25.3% in 2012. This decline is due to the fact that smoking is much less socially acceptable, there’s a decline in cigarette smoking rates, there’s a growing number of households that are smoke-free, and a growing number of states that do not allow smoking in public places, restaurants, bars, and casinos. Besides the known negative effects of smoking, there are still states where smoking in bars and restaurants is allowed.
Oklahoma is one such example. Although Oklahoma smoking laws prohibit smoking in some indoor places opened to the public, there’s still permission to smoke in bars. According to Rep. Harold Wright, the strongest opposition to ban smoking came from business owners. They believe that a smoking ban will affect the sustainability of their businesses. However, considering that it’s very important to protect non-smokers, some of the owners have either separated the bars from the restaurants with walls or have installed air purifying systems for cigarette smoke, to minimize the effects of SHS. Time will tell whether this is a good solution for bars and restaurants. Until then, we in this business ought to discuss this issue more frequently.