Bhutan Wants to Be First Smoke Free Nation
Bhutan, one of the poorest welfare states in the world and a landlocked Buddhist kingdom, wants to become the world’s first tobacco-free nation. From this article in the Christain Science Monitor, health and national officials are beginning to ban the sale of tobacco products and to ban smoking in public. Most of the nation’s districts have already banned smoking as Buddhists here “consider smoking to be a sin.” [November 2003]
In Israel, even though there are serious laws in place prohibiting smoking in public places, walk into a restaurant and ask for a the “no smoking” section and the waiter will look around to see if anyone is smoking. Many times we’ve been told that because no one is smoking at this table “right now”, even though there is a filled ash tray on the table, it is a no smoking table. Our personal favorite is when we travel to an exciting location and are promised by voice (telephone), fax, and email that the hotel room we’ve just booked is a non-smoking room, we find ash trays in the room and the smell of smoke. Confronting the hotel clerk means being told that there is absolutely NO WAY they can promise a no smoking room. “We can’t tell people not to smoke!”
Well, I’m telling everyone right now that YOU CAN TELL THEM NOT TO SMOKE. Please, feel free to copy this, print it and hand it out to hotels and restaurants you encounter with the same archaic attitudes about smoking. It starts with you saying, “No, that’s not good enough!”
- Don’t Help Smokers
- Providing an ash tray in the room or on a table invites a smoker to light up. Make it difficult for them to put it out and they might not light up in the first place, or at least they will ask before they do.
- Clearly Define “NO SMOKING” Areas
- Signs do help, but they must be obvious and clear. Many city and national governments, as well as local health and anti-smoking organizations, will provide these free of charge.
- It’s Okay to Say NO to Smokers
- Honestly, it is okay to say no to smokers. Most of them understand. As a foreigner traveling the world, rarely am I confronted with the obstinate smoker who sneers “stupid American”. The majority of people are kind and don’t smoke while I’m around – but only after I’ve asked them not to. I’ve asked many waiters to ask a smoker to stop, but they tell me they can’t do that. SURE THEY CAN! They believe that if they tell someone not to smoke, they will lose business.
- Saying NO to Smoke Hurts Business
- What a myth. Asking a smoker to stop smoking will result in a yes or no, and it won’t hurt you or their business. If a smoker says no, you leave. That will hurt business. Stopping a smoker from smoking will not effect business. They will stay there, spend money, and just not light up. Please, stand up for your healthy lungs and say no to smokers.
- Confine Smokers, Free Non-Smokers
- In Israel, the law states that smokers are to be confined to an enclosed area with air circulation limited only to and from the outside of the building and NOT within the rest of the building and non-smoking areas. This puts a very high toll on building owners and renters, therefore many don’t do it even if it is the law. The cost of construction and equipment for such an air circulation system is very high. BUT, time and time again companies have found that they are actually making more money providing non-smoking areas. Restaurants in California, Washington and other states around the US are reporting increases in income and customers. Many hotels are also reporting similar increases, though it is hard to tell with the drop in tourism world-wide. If you are not going to provide a totally smoke-free area, at least make the area separated with distance between non-smokers and smokers. Side-by-side tables is not enough space as the smoke travels. A good 4-6 meters with a wall in between is recommended.
- Tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable death in the United States.
- In 1999, about 165,000 US women died prematurely from smoking-related diseases, like cancer and heart disease.
- What are you putting into your body? More than 4,000 individual compounds have been identified in tobacco and tobacco smoke. Among these are about 60 compounds that cause cancer.
- Every day in the USA, about 3,000 young people under the age of 18 become smokers. How many are lighting up in your country?
- Tobacco use remains the leading preventable cause of death in the USA, causing more than 419,000 deaths each year at an annual cost of more than USD$50 billion, according to a 1996 report from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
- A one pack-a-day smoker, who pays at least USD$3 per pack, can expect to save more than USD$1,000 per year. The cost of cigarettes only continues to rise, making the financial rewards of quitting even better.
- 20 minutes after quitting smoking: your blood pressure drops to a level close to that before your last cigarette. The temperature of your hands and feet increases, returning to normal.
- 24 hours after quitting smoking: your chances of having a heart attack decrease.
- 2 weeks to 3 months after quitting smoking: you have better circulation and your lung function increases up to 30 percent.
- 1 year after quitting smoking: you reduce your risk for heart disease by 50 percent.
- 10 years after quitting smoking: your risk for dying from lung cancer is about half that of a continuing smoker’s; and your risk of cancer of the mouth, throat, esophagus, bladder, kidney, and pancreas also decrease.
- 15 years after quitting smoking: your risk of heart disease is now the same as someone who has never smoked.
- 5-15 years after quitting smoking: your risk of having a stroke is the same as someone who has never smoked.
- About 4,000 new babies in the US would not die every year if all pregnant women quit smoking.
- Tobacco use by pregnant women has been linked with increased risk for Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) and mental retardation; secondhand smoke worsens the health of children with asthma.
- When you quit smoking, you help prevent your children from smoking.
- Quitting smoking could lower the amount of cholesterol in your blood.
- Quitting smoking reduces wrinkles and yellow spots on your fingers, and gives you a better sense of taste and smell.
- Quitting smoking reduces your risk for infertility (not being able to get pregnant), pregnancy problems, earlier onset of menopause, and osteoporosis (thinning and weakening of bones).
- Smokers who quit before age 50 have half the risk of dying in the next 15 years compared to those who continue to smoke.
- When you quit smoking, you stop hurting those around you. The secondhand smoke from your cigarettes can make your family and friends have more colds and asthma attacks. It can also put them at risk for heart and lung diseases, and even lung cancer.
- When you stop smoking, your pets will be happier. Did you know that secondhand smoke increases the risk of lung cancer in dogs?
- This is Not a USA Problem
- Many times throughout Europe and Israel, I’ve been told that my “opinion” about smoking is because of my expectation that the world outside of the US should be exactly like the US. What a crock! I don’t expect the rest of the world to be anything like the USA, which is one of the reasons I travel it. Certainly, I can’t expect US standards everywhere I go. But my right to breath smoke-free air has nothing to do with the United States. It has to do with ME. It is my right as a human being to breath freely, as it is yours and your children. Just because the US has more laws and standards against smoking doesn’t mean that it is a US issue. More and more countries are applying the same laws as they face the heavy burden of paying for the costs of smoking citizens. As I mentioned, Israel has very stringent laws against smoking in public places, but Israelis don’t abide by many laws in general. To be honest, the country doesn’t have the financial means and manpower to enforce the laws. They can’t even collect on parking tickets. But the law is the law and it’s not my fault or the fault of the United States that a country’s citizens can’t obey their own laws. A right to breath freely is a universal right.
- The Pleasure of a Smoke Free Environment
- There is nothing more pleasurable for a diner than to sit in a sparkling clean environment where they can smell the food and not the smoke. Smoke stains. It sticks to everything leaving a greasy, yellow and brown stain on everything. Combined with the grease of cooking, this discoloration makes everything dark and dank. Without smoke, paint, fabric and upholstery stays the lovely color originally chosen by the designers for the most pleasing appearance possible instead of turning dull and yellow with smoke. Think about your customers and the experience they are having in your establishment. Cleaner is better.
- Think of the Children
- I know many people stop smoking when they become grandparents. They understand the impact of smoke upon the precious new lungs of their future. Why they didn’t have the same concerns for their own children is a mystery I will never understand, especially when I see pregnant women and women with newborns chain smoking as they strut around Tel Aviv. Research shows that if you smoke, your children will smoke. Smoking while telling your children not to smoke certainly lends credibility to the evils of smoking and all messages you hand out. Children learn not to trust parents who say one thing and do another. Please, if you understand the dangers of smoking, think of your children and stop for them. Or for your grandchildren. Or for all the children of the world. Smoking, even second hand smoke, injures children more quickly and more seriously than adults. Do it for them.
Breathing is a right.
Smoking is a choice.
There is another aspect to a smoke-free environment that many companies don’t consider, especially those who cater to the public like hotels and restaurants. I didn’t even realize it myself until a visit to “Spaghetim Restaurant” in Jerusalem. Entering the restaurant, we were startled by the waitress asking if we wanted “smoking or non-smoking”. Not having heard those words inside Israel for over 3 years, we were stunned and absolutely delighted. “NO SMOKING!” we cheered. The restaurant was lovely and the food divine, but what was the most exciting part of my experience was that I ate in relaxed peace. It took me a while to realize that I wasn’t staring at everyone who came into that section to see if there was a cigarette in their hand. I didn’t get nervous watching a woman dig around in her purse wondering if she was looking for her cell phone or a cigarette. My shoulders dropped and my neck relaxed. It was the first time I had eaten out in Israel without the stress of being on my guard against smokers. What an absolute pleasure!
With over 75% of all humans allergic to cigarette smoke, including smokers, and 95% of all children, not to mention the diseases and dis-ease that smoking causes to those who smoke and those who are near the smoke, it is time to take a stand and make the adventure of living and traveling around the world smoke-free and enjoyable for all.
Smoke Free World Resources
Here are some web sites to help you find smoke-free establishments. If you would like to add more sites to the list, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you are looking for no-smoking lodging, to limit your search to no-smoking establishments, enter the name of the location plus any of these words: no smoking, smoke free, and non-smoking (nonsmoking).
- Smoke Free Campgrounds and Lodging
- Ash’s Smoke Free Travel
- Smoking Hurts – Information and Resources – Click Travel or Restaurants for Smoke Free Places
- Survival Tips for Smoke Free Travel
For more information on smoking, quitting smoking, and the hazards of smoking, check out some of these resources:
- No-smoke.org’s No Smoking Issues
- Smoke-Free Environments Law Project for Apartments and Condos
- US Environmental Protection Agency – What to do about second hand smoke
- Ash.org – Information about tobacco and smoking
- World Health Organizations’ site on Smoking
- Smoking Hurts – Information and Resources
- US Surgeon General’s Report on Smoking
- Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s Tobacco and Smoking
- Center for Disease Control Impact of Tobacco on Health
- The Monster List of Quit Smoking Links
- About.com’s Stop Smoking and Smoking Information site
- American Cancer Society
- National Cancer Institute
- American Lung Association
- Daily Reasons to Breath Clean
- Substance Abuse Resource Guide to Smoking
- Quit Smoking for women
- US Surgeon General’s Report on Smoking and Women
- Smoking and Pregnancy