UPMC making the right move

Published Jul 24, 2013 at 4:56 am (Updated Jul 19, 2013 at 11:59 am)

Bravo to The Almanac for its editorial on July 17, in which it perfectly states the case to laud and cheer health care titan UPMC’s directive that in one year, employees and contractors will not be permitted to smoke within the workday.

Although no one expects UPMC to engage “smoking police” to go undercover to observe its workers off-site, the extension of the policy, which has prohibited smoking on UPMC property since 2007, is appropriate for the following reasons:

The right of businesses and residents which border UPMC facilities to avoid having smokers spewing fumes and discarding ashes and butts on their private property.

The ability for those being treated at UPMC facilities to be able to avoid the nurse/smoker returning to the work site reeking of tobacco.

The arguments of smokers are desperate and illogical, and include: “I pay ‘x’ dollars in taxes on a pack of cigarettes; I can smoke anytime and anywhere I please.” “If smoking is banned today, are cheeseburgers going to be off limits tomorrow?” And, “How is the government going to operate if people quit smoking, given its dependence on tobacco tax revenue?”�

I would respond as follows: No, one does not have the right to smoke wherever and whenever they wish anymore, thank heavens; cheeseburgers are not a lethal drug addiction whose engagement directly affects others; and if smoking restrictions lead to more individuals quitting, that is great. The government and insurers will ultimately spend less for their healthcare.

State Representative John Maher (R-Upper Saint Clair), a smoker, was out of step with his constituents when he voted no on the Clean Indoor Act, which finally ended smoking in most public places. He told me at the time the bill was passed that we should evaluate it a year after its implementation. I have, and I conclude that it is working beautifully. Representative Maher has not provided me his analysis. To my knowledge, he has never expressed regret for his anti-public health vote or any support for the law that took effect without his blessing. I wonder how many area residents would like to go back to the days of smoking and non-smoking sections in restaurants (which did virtually nothing to keep smoke out of the non-smoking area) and individuals smoking in workplaces and stores.

A society that freely passes a lethal drug addiction from generation to generation, inflicting roughly a half million deaths in this country per year, is one which is deserving of castigation. UPMC has taken a giant step toward stopping the deadly trend.

Oren Spiegler

Upper St. Clair

UPMC making the right move

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