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Poll Story: Ban on public smoking
Kipp readers and the most current medical research both support the health benefits of a public smoking ban.
June 14, 2010 6:06 by Katherine Azmeh
In the Middle East, rates of diabetes and obesity are skyrocketing. Add to this the increasing burden health care costs are placing on business and government, and it makes sense that more societies are placing limits on smoking in public.
Based on your responses to last week’s opinion poll, Kipp readers are health-savvy and economically inclined. We asked whether you would support a complete ban on smoking in public places, and 76 percent of Kipp readers say they would.
That puts you in good company. Research supports the health benefits of public smoking bans. Earlier this year, a study published in the American medical journal, Pediatrics, showed that children living in societies with smoking bans exhibit markedly lower blood levels of “cotine” – an indicator of tobacco smoke exposure. The study authors contend their research shows smoking bans impact children and adolescents, as well as adults.
An additional 14.8 percent of Kipp readers feel that a partial ban on public smoking would be fairer. Together, about 91 percent of readers say they would support some limits on public smoking.
Increasingly, public policy makers in the region are like-minded. Bahrain’s government introduced legislation to strictly limit smoking areas and place bans on tobacco advertising. Syria banned smoking earlier this year, and Iraq, Lebanon, and Egypt are considering the implications of following suit.
But not everyone is convinced. Nine percent of Kipp’s readers were split in their reasons for opposing a ban, with about half going “old school” on this one, expressing the opinion that smoking represents a traditional past time in the region. The remaining five percent “don’t care,” they say, citing “more important issues.”
While Kipp might agree on that one, consider this: The societal burdens of smoking are enormous, with health and economic consequences that reverberate throughout the wider society. Few problems of such magnitude can be addressed with comparably simple measures.