Kansas City Considers Smoking Ban

Although 21 percent of Americans smoke, the country increasingly has been moving to ban smoking in all workplaces. Twenty-three states now have these smoke-free laws established, but most of those laws don't cover bars and restaurants.

In Kansas City, a proposed smoking ban has been met with strong opposition from business owners.

On Friday, Kansas City's Director of Health Dr. Rex Archer joined The Early Show to talk about the effects of a potential anti-smoking law.

In many cities with these regulations, bars and restaurants have increased sales since the laws were formed. Archer says that in addition to better business, Kansas City residents need to understand that new smoke-free legislation will save lives.

"We have as many people killed that are nonsmokers exposed to other people's tobacco smoke each year as we have deaths from homicides or motor vehicle crashes," Archer said.

Archer believes that the federal government, the Occupational Safety and Health Act in particular, needs to ameliorate the situation. He noted that there is a loophole in the legislation. OSHA forbids exposure to toxic chemicals in the workplace. But there is exclusion for tobacco because of the tobacco lobby.

"We wouldn't even be talking about this if the federal government closed the loophole," Archer said.

Anti-smoking laws have a significant number of benefits, according to Archer. He said, "When California went smoke-free with bars, the workers in bars' pulmonary function tests improved significantly in a very short period of time."

Kansas City currently protects its workers with a smoke-free ordinance. But the hospitality industry, which includes bars and restaurants, still permits customers to smoke.