Washington’s voters passed the current indoor air laws in 2005 with 64 percent of the vote. The message was clear: The voters do not want to be exposed to any secondhand smoke in public places. Our law protects employees from the harmful effects of secondhand smoke, and is a model for other jurisdictions.
But in spite of overwhelming majority support for this legislation, some lawmakers want to take a step back by allowing cigar bars. What a slippery slope that would create.
Any indoor smoking areas expose the public and employees to dangerous, cancer-causing chemicals. There is no ventilation system that can remove these chemicals from the air and surfaces. The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-conditioning Engineers Inc. official position states that, “At present, the only means of effectively eliminating health risks associated with indoor exposure is to ban smoking activity” (www.ashrae.org 2010).
These bills try to get around the health issues by requiring an HVAC system that has no scientific evidence of filtering out the toxins employees will be forced to inhale.
Remember, jurisdictions with clean-indoor-air laws, such as Washington state’s, experience a lower incidence of tobacco-related diseases. Let’s keep our laws protective of employees.