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Joined: 10 Apr 2007
Posts: 2

PostPosted: Tue Apr 17, 2007 4:02 pm    Post subject: OSHA Reply with quote

I finished reading your book last week. Thank you for handling this complex subject in a comprehensive and readable manner. Such a work was long overdue. It is clear from your book why this man-made pandemic will continue well into the next century.

I am just old enough to remember the jingles for Winston, Salem, and Viriginia Slims. And my earliest recollection of exposure to secondhand smoke was in the waiting room of the doctor's office where my mom worked. In fact, I can still remember the smell of tobacco smoke mixed with rubbing alcohol that was once common in medical buildings. But while these seem like ancient history, it was just last summer that I saw an obviously pregnant woman smoking at the entrance to the Columbus Zoo. And until last December, the sight of young children enveloped in smoke, seated in the smoking sections of Ohio restaurants was common. It still is common in many places in the US and most places in the world. Your phrase "deadly persistence" is an apt one.

I do have a few questions regarding OSHA. A few years ago OSHA proposed establishing federal indoor air quality standards. This proposal was withdrawn. Who was behind this decision and what was the rationale for it? OSHA's position is still that environmental tobacco smoke does not constitute a significant health risk to workers, which is obviously not the consensus of the scientific/medical community. Is there any movement to change OSHA's nonscientific standards? Who controls the decision making process at OSHA and what role do scientific and medical professionals play in this agency? Thanks
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Allan Brandt

Joined: 06 Mar 2007
Posts: 13

PostPosted: Thu Apr 19, 2007 1:35 am    Post subject: Reply with quote


Many thanks for this very interesting post. I am very pleased that you liked the book.

The OSHA story is an important one that demands more research. As you know, the tobacco industry has worked aggressively to oppose clean indoor air regulations on the part of the federal government. You are correct that OSHA has never taken regulatory action on second hand smoke.

It might be useful to take a look at some of the internal industry documents on line that address OSHA.

My understanding is that public health groups ultimately agreed to OSHA's withdrawal of the indoor air regulations. I am pasting in the OSHA announcement below.

If any readers have more info on the context of this decision, please post a reply.

All best,

OSHA Withdraws Indoor Air Proposal With Support Of Anti-Smoking Groups

WASHINGTON -- Assistant Secretary for Occupational Safety and Health John Henshaw announced that OSHA is withdrawing an inactive indoor air quality regulation proposed in 1994. The decision was reached with the support of major anti-smoking public health groups including the American Heart Association, the American Cancer Society, the American Lung Association, Americans for Nonsmokers' Rights and the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.

"Most of the activity on workplace smoking restrictions is now taking place at the state and local level," Henshaw said. "Today's action takes the positive step of setting aside what had become a contentious and unproductive effort. Of course, this action does not preclude future agency action if the need arises."

According to the American Lung Association, there has been a 50 percent increase in workplaces that have a smoke-free policy since 1994. Today, nearly 70 percent of employees work in businesses that have instituted smoke-free workplace policies.

"The urgency for federal action that existed when the rule making began has been changed by the actions of local communities, private employers and the states," Matthew Myers, president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids said in a letter to OSHA.
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