The Utah legislature is considering a bill (HB273) that would amend the Utah Clean Indoor Air Act thereby allowing the smoke free implementation date for fraternal organizations to be pushed from 2007 to 2009. While many are focusing on the business-related issues regarding HB273, one issue being trivialized is the effect that continued exposure to secondhand smoke will have on employees and patrons of these establishments.
Consider the following - clinical studies have shown that exposing non-smokers to 20 minutes of concentrated secondhand smoke can have the same effect as smoking one cigarette. Extending that exposure over two years (the length of the proposed amendment) shows that a non-smoking full time employee of one of these organizations will inhale the equivalent of nearly 12,000 cigarettes.
The main argument of those supporting the amendment is the effect the current law will have on business. While fraternal organizations were required to go smoke free this year, other establishments are not required to be smoke free until 2009. As legislators consider this issue it seems clear that an agreeable solution exists for all concerned parties. Simply move the smoke free implementation date for all establishments to 2007. This would answer the competitive imbalance argument and address the concerns over continuing to expose all Utahns to the deadly effects of secondhand smoke.