|Saturday, 24 July 2004|
In the world of work Puff-on huff
by Lloyd Fernando
Once to every man and nation comes the moment to decide,
In the strife of Truth with Falsehood, for the good or evil side.
- Lowell - The Present Crisis.
In recent times, more and more countries in their entirety, have taken a dim view of smoking to ban it in any form from workplaces as a result of years of agitation from co-workers over the smell of smoke; and influenced by scathing reports on the effects of passive smoking.
In spite of all the positive huffing over negative puffing, enterprises, organisations and cities have introduced stringent measures to curtail on totally ban smoking in all its multi-faceted forms.
On April first, this year, Ireland became the first country in the puffing world to impose a total ban on smoking at the workplace. It was surely no joke for worker smokers. Pubs and restaurants too were considered workplaces and so they no doubt became prohibitive grounds for smoking.
Preliminary research following the ban revealed that smoking was down 25 per cent in pubs. A non-smoking landlord had very outspokenly commented he was "healthier but poorer".
However, estimates show that a blanket ban could lead to an 8 per cent drop in pub sales - which in turn could cost the Irish Exchequer 69 million Euros. It is also "feared" that football audiences in pubs and bars already dropping in recent times will, after the ban, start plummeting. Furthermore, the ban could lead to 3,100 job losses resulting from falling sales.
A Norway country administrator has claimed that too strict a ban on smoking during office hours contravened human rights. The country anti-smoking ban law also prevented employees from lighting up in the privacy of their own cars during office hours.
This was ruled a breach of the European Human Rights Commission by the country administrator who found the right to smoke was part of the right to a private life. However, the labour unions had earlier stated their employees were happy with the tough anti-smoking law and deemed it a success.
Many smokers full persecuted by high-handed, anti-smoking colleagues, or an conscious of being watched by management. Some employees have, nevertheless, provided smoking rooms, or allowed workers to pop outside for a cigarette during office breaks.
Often, this could create resentment among non-smokers who believe they can work longer hours than their 'puffing' colleagues, leaving office several times a day. Non-smokers, it appears, are also fed up with having to cover up for their smoking counterparts.
When India's ban on tobacco promotion came into effect on 1st May, 2004, the spate of advertisements and sponsored events by cigarette and chewing tobacco major producers grounded to a halt.
Thus, India, a signatory to the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco - which is expected to come into operation soon, joined the league of select countries like Sri Lanka that have gone beyond curbing smoking in public places to banning tobacco promotion.
In Los Angeles, where smoking has already been banned in workplaces, public parks, bars and restaurants, the city is threatening to forbid a quiet smoke on its famed beaches.
Penalties up to US dollars 2,000 can be imposed for offenders in New York.
In Russia, as many as half of all adults smoke. Among men between 25 and 34, the figure exceeds 70 per cent-the highest rate in the world. A law passed in 2001, prohibits smoking in public places, but it remains a practical failure while employees provide puffing workers, smoking areas.
"Smoking kills" or 'Smoking makes you impotent' read the labels on cigarette packs in Africa.
South Africa is one African country which bans smoking in workplaces, despite the fact that 200,000 people are employed in the country's tobacco industry.
(The writer is former secretary to Governor, N.W.P.)
Produced by Lake House