By Joyce Mukucha
Public health officials have strongly warned that passive smoking causes diseases which include lung cancer and heart disease in non-smoking adults.
In a normal society, smokers should desist from public smoking as it cause dangers to public health.
There are places where smoking should not be permitted at all. These include elevators, places with fire hazard warning signs or areas occupied primarily by children, such as playgrounds, schools and day-care facilities.
If a closer look is taken in Zimbabwe, most people have normalised a tendency of smoking in public and the majority are complaining that their health is being taken for granted.
Many people in different work places have complained that smokers especially males are harming them with the smoke that comes from cigarettes. People are suggesting that strong policies be put in place to curb such kind of behaviour.
From a health perspective, this can exacerbate adult asthma and cause eye, throat and nasal irritation.
According to a survey done by Spiked Online Media, women who work in overcrowded places said they were no longer safe because of the air they were inhaling from public smokers.
Valencia Mukami a seller at Copacabana Flea Market said where smoking is permitted, the government should acquire warning notices that communicate public health officials’ conclusions that second-hand smoke causes disease in non-smokers.
“I am a mother and most of the time I would be breastfeeding but I’m witnessing people who smoke in public on a daily basis. I have a baby and to my surprise you see someone just ligting up the cigarette thereby passing the smoke to children. This is unacceptable in our society. Measures should be put in place to end this so that we carry our businesses freely without fearing for our health,” she said.
According to health experts, public smoking is dangerous to children. It can cause conditions such as asthma, respiratory infections, cough, wheeze, middle ear infections and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.
Philip Morris of USA avers that people should be able to avoid being around second-hand smoke, particularly in places where they must go, such as public buildings, public transportation and many areas in the workplace. The company also believes that:
“The public should be guided by the conclusions of public health officials regarding the health effects of second-hand smoke when deciding whether to be in places where second-hand smoke is present. Particular care should be exercised where children are concerned. Adults should avoid smoking around children.
“Smoking should be permitted outdoors except in very particular circumstances, such as outdoor areas primarily designed for children. In many indoor public places, reasonable ways exist to respect the comfort and choices of both non-smoking and smoking adults,” he said.
The assumptions of public health executives regarding ecological tobacco smoke are adequate to warrant certain actions that control smoking.
People said owners of restaurants and bars should be familiar with how to accommodate the needs of their patrons and have the opportunity and flexibility to determine their own smoking policy. The public can then choose whether or not to frequent places where smoking is permitted.
A lady who works at a restaurant along Fourth Street in Harare suggested that In indoor public places where smoking is permitted, business owners should have the flexibility to decide how best to address the preferences of non-smokers. She proferred the separation of rooms and or high-quality ventilation between smokers and non-smokers.