Tue, Nov 14, 2006 - Page 2 News List

Survey reveals majority favor work smoking ban

By Angelica Oung  /  STAFF REPORTER

An ongoing survey on smoking in the workplace has found that while more than 22.8 percent of employees still light up on the job, 86.6 percent support total smoking bans in all indoor workplaces with more than three workers.

The survey of 5,777 workers was sponsored by the Bureau of Health Promotion (BHP) of the Department of Health (DOH) and was conducted by Yang-ming University.

At a press conference held at the DOH yesterday, BHP Deputy Director General Chao Kun-yu (趙坤郁) expressed his desire that the release of the survey's results would influence the passage of proposed anti-smoking amendments currently making their way through the Legislative Yuan.

No consensus

"It's not impossible" that the proposed amendments would yet pass despite the failure thus far of the Sanitation, Environment and Social Welfare Committee to come to a consensus, Chao told the Taipei Times.

According to the survey, 32.1 percent of respondents this year described second-hand smoke in the workplace as "intolerable" compared with 25.9 percent two years ago. The number of workplaces with some smoking restrictions also went up, from 65.9 percent in 2003 to 91.6 percent this year.

However, most of this growth was in partial smoking restrictions rather than total smoking bans and the percentage of respondents who say they could smell smoke at work has remained essentially static (29.9 percent in 2004 and 30.1 percent this year).

`Total ban'

"Anything less than a total smoking ban is not going to be optimal," said Chen Ruey-Yu (陳叡瑜) of Taipei Medical University.

"Some companies designate public spaces such as tea rooms and stairwells as smoking areas even though non-smokers need to access those facilities. In any case, with central air conditioning, you cannot keep the smoke from spreading from one area," Chen said.

Chen is adamant a government-enforced workplace smoking ban is necessary to safeguard public health.

"Sometimes people who know the right thing to do in the abstract fail to act accordingly" Chen said of those who approve of smoking bans in principle but still smoke in the workplace "This is why we need laws to enforce standards."

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