Smoking has already been banned in half of all bars, restaurants, and office buildings. Now the battle has moved outdoors with signs popping up in places like city parks, public beaches, college campuses, and even bus stops.
But is it really necessary? Supporters say yes because hundreds of studies link secondhand smoke to health problems like heart disease and even brief exposure to cigarette smoke can cause blood to become sticky and more prone to clotting. Researchers also believe that outdoor levels of smoke can equal indoor levels, depending on which way the wind’s blowing, or whether an overhang or alcove can trap smoke. In fact, one study detected significant fumes as far as 44 feet away from a smoker. Bottom line: If you can smell it, it’s harmful. As a result, the number of outdoor smoking bans has doubled in the past five years.
But here’s the thing: here haven’t been any studies on the long-term health effects of inhaling cigarette smoke outdoors. And so far, there’s zero solid medical evidence that outdoor cigarette smoke can harm the health of children or anyone else nearby. Neil Klepeis is a Stanford University researcher who says the science is still up in the air. And Ronald Bayer, a Columbia University professor, put it in even blunter terms. He says, "The evidence of a risk to people in open-air settings is flimsy.” Which means, he believes that a widespread ban on outdoor smoking simply isn’t necessary. So what do you think? Should smoking be banned in outdoor public spaces? Weigh in at www.Facebook.com/JohnTesh.