'I have a comic book mentality' (1998)
For the ground troops of the anti-tobacco war, the next achievable objective was to get rid of smoking areas from restaurants. There was even talk of extending smoking bans to that last refuge of the smoker: public bars. This upped the ante considerably, taking the battle out of the workplace and into recreational settings. Previous anti-smoking laws had never defined bars and clubs as public places for the very good reason that they were not publicly owned. Smokers had accepted smoking restrictions in their offices, believing there to be an unspoken agreement that their social life would be unaffected. Now, said the anti-smokers, bars were both public places and workplaces and those within them should be protected from secondhand smoke.
There was, if anything, even less evidence of passive smoking being harmful to nonsmokers in the workplace than there was of it being a health hazard in the home but this proved no barrier to the seasoned campaigners of California moving on to what they called the 'next logical step'. While the EPA was constructing its 1992 report, two large US studies - both funded by the National Cancer Institute - found that exposure to passive smoke in the workplace was no threat to nonsmokers. In fact, no epidemiological study had ever found any statistical link between lung cancer and secondhand smoke in social settings (or the workplace). Statistically non-significant associations abounded but with very mixed results. Five had shown an increase in risk but six showed a reduction...
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