We’re taught early in our school years that tobacco was first discovered upon European’s adventures to North American Indian territory. Cheek and jowl with its addictive quality, tobacco use quickly went ‘Internationale,’ pretentiously inhaled among the upper classes.
It wasn’t until the late 18th century that smoking was perceived as vulgar by, “the arbiter of high fashion in high society in London, Tunbridge Wells and Bath, George Brummell. Beau Brummell, succeeded in making it unacceptable for nearly 80 years. Then in the 1860’s smoking reemerged, influenced by royalty and the aristocracy.”
Now, nearly a century and a half later, smoking is once again under siege, for reasons unbeknownst to the earlier pretenders of fashion and spiritualistic tradition. Scientific advances, health research and taxations are culminating to produce mixed signals regarding the use of tobacco products.
In Maryland, a clash between the American Heart Association, Environmental Protection Agency, restaurant owners, state officials and smoking advocates plays out like a quid pro quo labyrinth. The scuffling resides in health issues like increased susceptibility to cancer and heart attacks. Of course the former and latter affect insurance policy and the health care system, working their way in and out of fuzzy statistics and ‘snap judgment’ policies.
Also on the table is the well being of businesses across Maryland, the hardest hit being bars and restaurants. Now at the end of years-long debates and research, effective today a statewide smoking ban in most public places hits Maryland. It is essential to go to this web-site and research more about the effects of smoking
Undoubtedly what set this ball in motion are health concerns tied to tobacco products. On both sides of the table agreement surrounds the chemical capacity of cigarettes. Where the agreement ends is the exact harm of these, approximately 4,000 strong, chemical agents.
SAMMEC, a computer derived model designed to detect various chemical compound levels, is at the center of this debate. What is not common knowledge is the level at which this device reads 3,950 of the chemicals in a single cigarette. This level is known to chemists as a picogram, or 1/millionth of a gram. For example, a single grain of salt weighs around 100 million picograms. Naysayers of the harmful effects believe the numbers to be falsely increased, but for no apparent motive other than taking away ‘our rights.’
Leading researchers for the American Cancer Society, weigh in with hospital statistics claiming, “Cigarette smoking accounts for at least 30% of all cancer deaths.”
This debate grows more confusing in the political scene. Recently in a special session called by Governor of Maryland, Martin O’Malley, clashing tax breaks and tax increases kept with tradition of a confusing ‘Elect.’ As of today, businesses statewide will be swept by a non-smoking ban aimed to decrease health issues. Understanding that businesses will be affected negatively, a tax break, with a cap of $5,000, was set in place to help already struggling business owners prepare for a decrease in business. But a saving grace for tobacco dependent businesses lay in the form of a ‘hardship’ waiver.
This allows a business with proof of at least 15% decreased business, over three months to apply for a smoking permit. So long as the claim can be justified as due to the ban, a two year extension of smoking privileges will be granted. Smokers have also been targeted by an increased tax effective January 2008.
The reform also eliminated a previous provision stating that federal tax increases on tobacco would be countered by matching state decreases. These contradictory policies will all unveil the complications aligned with smoking, its roots in the community and its economic impact.
Spoon-fed ad nauseam by posters, billboards, media, and signs we are suffocated in relentless charges of the harmful effects of cigarette smoking: its first-hand and second-hand effects. What has not been mentioned, so prolifically, is the fact that alcohol emits a Class A carbon in 500 times the amount that cigarette carcinogens do.
As a smoker myself, I remain more an advocate of the ban than impartial participant. I can recognize that my stamina has diminished somewhat in the eight years I have been smoking. I can also still run circles around healthy 19 year olds in an hour-and-a-half basketball game. But in addition, having lost a sibling to cancer, I maintain a certain level of skepticism to the carelessly tossed around statistics.
On every document signed by doctors and my parents, it is noted that my brother was not a smoker, when in fact he smoked on average two packs per day from age 16 to his death at 21. This and other inconsistencies leave me with little faith in our capacity to understand what’s best for the public. In addition, the perception that night-goers prefer smokeless environments would be better left to business owners themselves.
There’s also that contradiction within the law and its motives. If the state is advocating a decrease in its smoking population, than why rely on increased tobacco taxes for revenue? Tobacco is an addictive drug and no decrease in New York’s smoking population, after its increased taxes, suggests that people will not be willing to pay the ‘jump’ here in Maryland.
[image courtesy of Skip The Budgie]