EDITORIAL

Ban on smoking, further proof that Romania is on a good path

Romania is gaining increased civilization. Slowly, in the opinion of people living in this country, fast in the opinion of foreigners visiting us at certain intervals, we are following a path that was already approached by countries in Western and Northern Europe we admire so much.

First of all, there were stray dogs, that not only scared us but also many foreign tourists that were avoiding Romania after reading various tourists’ flyers warning that warned them our streets were being crowded by threatening packs. This problem was partially solved and things are improving, although it did not happen less with the support of authorities and more with the associations for the protection of animals.

Then, there were the robberies that once scared both Romanians and foreigners. And this situation was also partly solved, this time with the help of authorities that grant more intensive attention to citizens’ safety.

Another aspect that keeps us behind other modern states is represented by smoke-filled locations. Indeed, much less than in the two previous cases, yet, after an hour of staying in a club or bar, your eyes and throat hurting, even if you were a smoker.

Perhaps, if not for the tragedy in the Bucharest club Colectiv, we would not have laws that ban smoking. Or, perhaps, it would come at a time we would have been forced – as in many other cases – to follow the example of other civilized countries where nonsmokers are not expected to deal with the smoke expired indoors by people who find cigarettes useful.
Nonetheless, this law is proof of civilisation, a good measure not only for nonsmokers, but also for smokers, as the smoke inhaled and re-inhaled in closed locations is both as damaging and unpleasant for both groups. Moreover, we all have the right to eat, to drink, to chat, to read, to sign and to read in closed locations, while our clothes smell of perfume and detergent, not of smoke.

There are numerous studies that prove this habit has terrible consequences on everybody’s health, and the law against smoking will help smokers to become more aware of the moment they light a cigarette. The fact that they must get out of the room in order to read or that they will be demanded to stay closed besides other smokers in a special room will make many people postpone lighting their cigarettes.

The effects of smoking being forbidden in public spaces was seen immediately in countries smoking was forbidden in public spaces. The studies show that the number of deaths and illnesses caused by the consumption of tobacco decreased.

Almost all countries of the European Union took measures to protect their citizens to exposure from cigarette smoke. Some of them completely forbade smoking in closed locations, others did it just partly. Totally, 17 of the 28 states of the European Union completely forbid smoking in closed public locations, in means of public transportation and in business headquarters.
Other countries imposed smoking restrictions just in certain areas. In Austria, France, Belgium, Italy and Denmark, by example, smoking is allowed in restaurants and bars, on one condition. If the surface does not exceed 50 square metres, the owners may decide whether the location will be for smokers or nonsmokers.

Moreover, smoking is also allowed at jobs, in locations specially arranged for this purpose. Although the complete banning of smoking was not adopted in public locations, the Finnish authorities decided to turn it into a nonsmoking country until the year 2040.

In most of these countries, in a year since the start of this law, smoking decreased in a proportion of 16 to 20 per cent, which means a significant diminishing of the number of cases of acute symptoms, at the time we have to deal with smokers, as declared by Professor Doctor Florin Mihaltan, primary doctor and pulmonologist, the President of the Romanian Pulmonology Society, at Digi24.

Another positive effect noted was the decrease in the number of hospitalizations of heart stroke for adults and of complications in the cases of children suffering of bronchitic asthma.
Despite of limitations, though, statistics show that the number of smokers did not decrease dramatically, as expected by specialists due to nicotine dependency. And yet, there are countries where the need to smoke was replaced successfully by various solutions that contain nicotine.

By example, in a journey I recently made in Sweden, in a club that hosted a concert, and smoking was obviously banned, many people used snus – tobacco pills destined for sucking – and few people exited the premises to smoke, which is a sign that these alternative solutions are indeed working.

And there is one more thing to note: the fact that smokers started to have a positive attitude towards the law that banned smoking. If initially, even in more developed countries than Romania, smokers disagreed with the banning of smoking in public locations, six months after the law was adopted, things changed and people found out it was no big deal to get out and smoke, because it was pleasant to be in a room that did not smell of cigarettes.

Moreover, besides expectations, results did not diminish the profit of restaurants, clubs and bars. It is because in these countries, the majority is represented by nonsmokers, not by smokers. By example, in Italy, six months after the ban on smoking was applied, the president of the Club and Restaurant Owners Association, an organism that was vehemently opposing this law at first, stepped out publicly and declared that, indeed, it was a law that benefited business. Another example is the metropolis of New York, where it was noted that the number of bar customers increased, instead of decreasing, as it was initially suspected.

And it happened precisely because the bars were visited also by people who initially avoided these places because they did not tolerate smoking – and among them, there were also families with children.

The reason? People visit clubs and bars in order to socialize and relax, first of all, not to smoke.

Therefore, Romania is also gaining increasing civilization in this field. And perhaps it will become increasingly healthier as we should not forget that, in our country, 89 people die every day because of smoking, the equivalent of four people per hour, which means that “every 15 minutes, one Romanian dies because if smoking and 50% of the people smoking in present will die of diseases connected to smoking if they do not give up”, shows an exhibition of reasons of the recently adopted draft law.

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