Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Another Day and Another Survey

Tony Palazzolo

It seems that these surveys just keep coming and coming. They come from many different sources and pretty much all say the same thing. Most people that smoke want to quit. Like we needed to spend 1.4 million oftax payers money to figure that out. Which is also not surprising is that how it was released to the press. The constant in these surveys is that they want a means to an end. They want to ban smoking in all public and private places. The press release proudly pronounces that over half of people support a ban at restaurants and bars. I'm not surprised because the same result was released by Smoke-Free St Louis just last month. What they are counting on is that most people won't look at the actual results. The real results are this - yes over half think that smoking should not be allowed in restaurants. That is how the question was asked. There is a big difference in "think that smoking should not be allowed" and "supports a comprehensive law". What make it even more interesting is the question that was asked. In the indoor dining area of restaurants, do you think that smoking should be allowed in all areas, allowed in some areas, or not allowed at all? Most restaurants allow smoking in the "bar area" only. This question ignores that and would seem to "trick" people into advocating for a ban. As a matter of fact, I think that smoking should only be allowed in the bar area of a restaurant. I also am against making it a law and forcing my beliefs on owners and other patrons. According to this survey and how they publish it, I am for a smoking ban.

When it comes to bars its quite different. When asked this question: In bars and cocktail lounges, do you think smoking should be allowed in all areas, some areas or not at all? Only 26.7% said that smoking should not be allowed at all in bars and cocktail lounges. This would absolutely negate the headline that a majority of people want smoking banned at restaurants and bars.

An even more telling statistic that came out of this survey was if people wanted a stronger workplace policy amongst those that work indoors. Only 12.6% of people surveyed want a stronger policy against second hand smoke. While I was surprised at this number I probably shouldn't have been. What I've known for a long time is that simply put - most people don't care. There are the vocal minority that want smoking banned everywhere including places they wouldn't go. On the other side, there are those such as myself that want to leave it up to the business to decide. The vast majority in the middle don't care. People in Missouri are happy with how it is.

Now this is where it gets interesting. When asked again if they would support a smoke-free law in Restaurants they received a 63.5 yes. When they also ask if they would support it in all work places it drops down to 56%. Of course when asked if smoking should be allowed in bars more than 70% say that it should be. What this says is that people in general don't want smoking around them when they are eating. Of course - another question asked if people had not gone to a restaurant because it allowed smoking. To that question only 14% said they had avoided a restaurant because it allowed smoking. Contrast to to 8.5% of people that said the avoided a restaurant because it didn't allow smoking. This simply states something that most people already know. There is a market for both smoking and non-smoking.

Confused - you should be because how could over 70% of the people say that smokingshould be allowed in bars, but 56% of the people would support a law banning it everywhere. When asked if smoking shouldn't be allowed in restaurants 56.5% said that shouldn't. When asked if they would support a law banning smoking in restaurants 63.5% said they would. How can more people support a law banningsmoking when 7% less think it should be allowed. Either 7% of the respondents were confused by asking the same question 5 different ways or they think that it should be allowed and illegal. I'm going with confused on this one.

There were several questions regarding health and SHS. Overwhelmingly people feel that SHS is bad for you. This doesn't mean that SHS is actually bad for you, it what the general population believes. At one time people thought that bleeding aperson would get out the bad blood. People thought that because that is what they were told. This is the same for SHS and what people think. Most people aren't exposed to the actual research. Whats important is that even with the thought that SHS is deadly still a significant percentage of people still think that a ban is a bad idea. Imagine what the numbers would be if people saw the research. Or if they read the SG Report that said something like 107 times that there is no relationship between SHS and illness. This survey would have drastically different numbers.

In the end, it is a choice people have to make. They make it at where they eat and drink. They also make it were they work. The whole idea of a ban is to protect everyone from SHS. According to this study, only 11.5% of people have been around SHS at work in the past 7 days. You have to assume that some of those people are smokers. That leaves a very small percentage of people to protect. With a 88.5% of workplaces not being subject to SHS they have plenty of options - if they want it.

Tony Palazzolo