Rise in anti-Hookah legislation

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Rise in anti-Hookah legislation

Postby podbaydoor » Tue May 31, 2011 3:46 pm UTC

From the NYTimes:
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/31/healt ... c_ev=click

By DOUGLAS QUENQUA

Kevin Shapiro, a 20-year-old math and physics major at the University of Pennsylvania, first tried a hookah at a campus party. He liked the exotic water pipe so much that he chipped in to buy one for his fraternity house, where he says it makes a useful social lubricant at parties.

Like many other students who are embracing hookahs on campuses nationwide, Mr. Shapiro believes that hookah smoke is less dangerous than cigarette smoke because it “is filtered through water, so you get fewer solid particles.”

“Considering I don’t do it that often, once a month if that, I’m not really concerned with the health effects,” he added.

But in fact, hookahs are far from safe. And now, legislators, college administrators and health advocates are taking action against what many of them call the newest front in the ever-shifting war on tobacco. In California, Connecticut and Oregon, state lawmakers have introduced bills that would ban or limit hookah bars, and similar steps have been taken in cities in California and New York. Boston and Maine have already ended exemptions in their indoor-smoking laws that had allowed hookah bars to thrive.

The ornate glass and metal water pipes are used for smoking an aromatic blend of tobacco, molasses and fruit known as shisha. A 2008 study of 3,770 students at eight universities in North Carolina found more than 40 percent had smoked a hookah at least once, only slightly lower than the percentage who had tried a cigarette at least once.

But researchers say the notion that water filters all the harmful chemicals in tobacco smoke is a myth. So, too, they say, is the idea that because hookah smoking is an occasional activity, users are inhaling much less smoke than cigarette users.

Many young adults are misled by the sweet, aromatic and fruity quality of hookah smoke, which causes them to believe it is less harmful than hot, acrid cigarette smoke. In fact, because a typical hookah session can last up to an hour, with smokers typically taking long, deep breaths, the smoke inhaled can equal 100 cigarettes or more, according to a 2005 study by the World Health Organization.

That study also found that the water in hookahs filters out less than 5 percent of the nicotine. Moreover, hookah smoke contains tar, heavy metals and other cancer-causing chemicals. An additional hazard: the tobacco in hookahs is heated with charcoal, leading to dangerously high levels of carbon monoxide, even for people who spend time in hookah bars without actually smoking, according to a recent University of Florida study. No surprise, then, that several studies have linked hookah use to many of the same diseases associated with cigarette smoking, like lung, oral and bladder cancer, as well as clogged arteries, heart disease and adverse effects during pregnancy. And because hookahs are meant to be smoked communally — hoses attached to the pipe are passed from one smoker to the next — they have been linked with the spread of tuberculosis, herpes and other infections.

“Teens and young adults are initiating tobacco use through these hookahs with the mistaken perception that the products are somehow safer or less harmful than cigarettes,” said Paul G. Billings, a vice president of the American Lung Association. “Clearly that’s not the case.”

Mr. Billings calls the emerging anti-hookah legislation a “top priority” for the lung association.

The organization is having some success, particularly at colleges where hookahs had become a fixture in dorms and fraternity houses. Louisiana State University, Baylor University, George Mason University, Lehigh University and others have expanded their antismoking policies to include hookahs in recent years.

Hookahs are a big part of the reason the University of Oregon will ban all tobacco products on campus as of next year, after years of complaints from students about secondhand smoke.

Students already are feeling the change. For Cassie Ramsey, arriving at college was a bit of a culture shock, because she had to leave behind her hookah pipe.

“I only smoke once, maybe twice a month now,” said Ms. Ramsey, a sophomore at Johnson & Wales University in Providence, R.I., where hookahs are not allowed in the dorms.

“It’s kind of depressing because over the summer I was a very avid hookah smoker,” she said, gathering at least once a day with friends for smoking sessions that would last up to two hours.

Local governments, too, are moving to stem rising interest in hookahs. Most of the anti-hookah laws now under consideration are intended to end exemptions in state indoor-smoking bans that allowed hookah bars to thrive. Such bans often contained exceptions for “tobacco specialty shops”; many hookah bars qualify as such by not serving food or alcohol. College towns in particular have reported a marked increase in hookah bars over the past five years.

“It was appalling to me when I first saw them springing up here in the Portland area,” Carolyn Tomei, an Oregon state representative, said of the more than 45 applications her state has received from hookah bars since its ban on indoor smoking went into effect in 2009. (Previously, there were five bars.)

These bars rely on theme nights and exotically flavored tobacco (passion fruit, “Sex on the Beach”) to market themselves to the college set, and many do not serve alcohol, making them an attractive destination for people under 21.

Ms. Tomei, Democrat of Milwaukie, a suburb of Portland, sponsored a bill to limit new hookah bars in Oregon; it passed the State House of Representatives in April and awaits a vote in the Senate.

Hookah bars have long been a mainstay of Middle Eastern life, and they are popular in American cities with large Arab populations, including New York, where Councilman Vincent J. Gentile, a Brooklyn Democrat, has introduced a bill that would prevent new hookah bars from opening next year and beyond.

The backlash against the crackdown has already begun. On Facebook, there are dozens of hookah interest groups, some aimed at protesting bans on hookahs.

“Why don’t they ban cigarettes from CT first, then we can get into the rest,” one Facebook member wrote on a page for people who oppose the hookah legislation in Connecticut. “I think this is just people being very judgmental.”


So, thoughts? I've only smoked hookah occasionally - maybe two or three times a year - so I'm not worried about myself. The truth about the health effects are rather surprising - but the trend in outright banning hookahs seems disingenuous considering how cigarettes are still around and available.
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Re: Rise in anti-Hookah legislation

Postby zmatt » Tue May 31, 2011 3:53 pm UTC

Why do they care? I don't understand this war on tobacco. These are adults we are talking about. It's there prerogative to smoke hookah, or cigarettes or pipes or cigars or whatever. Anything beyond educating people who may think that it is safer is a violation of their rights. They enacted a smoking ban at my university two years ago. As far as I can tel lit has had zero effect. I walked around one evening with a cigar. I cop stopped me to make sure I hadn't re rolled it with pot, and then he let me go. He said they don't enforce it because it keeps them from dealing with real problems. Considering the rash of robberies we have had I don't blame him. These laws are simply the work of moral crusaders who some fool let them have power.
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Re: Rise in anti-Hookah legislation

Postby Chen » Tue May 31, 2011 4:17 pm UTC

I could see on-campus and in dorm banning due to second-hand smoke. But banning Hookah bars in particular seems pretty dumb. If the sole reason the place exists is for smoking, it stands to reason those who go there want to smoke.

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Re: Rise in anti-Hookah legislation

Postby broken_escalator » Tue May 31, 2011 4:20 pm UTC

I don't think hookah should be legislated against more than cigarettes or cigars, but they should be subject to similar legislation and warnings informing people of the dangers (assuming they don't). Mostly everyone who I've talked to about hookah seems to think it has little to no health risk; they don't really understand how tar is generated or how it works.

To sum it up, a more informed decision sounds good and I think people should be able to smoke hookah if they want.

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Re: Rise in anti-Hookah legislation

Postby KestrelLowing » Tue May 31, 2011 4:25 pm UTC

I completely support educating people about the effects of hookah as the majority do believe it's nearly 100% safe and that's not true.

But I don't support the complete banning of them. They should be banned in some public places, exactly as is done with cigarettes because second hand smoke is a major problem. However, banning a hookah bar is just stupid. People get to choose if they want to mess up their lungs.

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Re: Rise in anti-Hookah legislation

Postby Robot_Raptor » Tue May 31, 2011 4:48 pm UTC

KestrelLowing wrote:I completely support educating people about the effects of hookah as the majority do believe it's nearly 100% safe and that's not true.

But I don't support the complete banning of them. They should be banned in some public places, exactly as is done with cigarettes because second hand smoke is a major problem. However, banning a hookah bar is just stupid. People get to choose if they want to mess up their lungs.


Seconded, of course that goes for pretty much all recreational drugs.

You can be as stupid as you want, as long as you don't force others into it. (as you arguably do with second hand smoke)

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Re: Rise in anti-Hookah legislation

Postby Dream » Tue May 31, 2011 8:33 pm UTC

Chen wrote:If the sole reason the place exists is for smoking, it stands to reason those who go there want to smoke.

Except the staff. Smoking is usually banned in workplaces, and not elsewhere, even if those workplaces are normally associated with tobacco consumption. Slice it whatever way you like, it should never be legal to employ people in a carcinogenic atmosphere.
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Re: Rise in anti-Hookah legislation

Postby Bubbles McCoy » Tue May 31, 2011 8:47 pm UTC

Dream wrote:Except the staff. Smoking is usually banned in workplaces, and not elsewhere, even if those workplaces are normally associated with tobacco consumption. Slice it whatever way you like, it should never be legal to employ people in a carcinogenic atmosphere.

I can see this argument applying to bars, as it's unlikely that bars lose much business by banning smoking. But by shuttering locations whose only purpose is to allow people to smoke, you're just outright costing jobs. While it's important that employees are aware of the dangers, presumably if you work in a Hookah bar you've decided the job is worth the risks, and just firing everyone who works in these places helps nobody.

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Re: Rise in anti-Hookah legislation

Postby CorruptUser » Tue May 31, 2011 10:37 pm UTC

Heh, memories. Senior year, my roommate and I would take his hookah outside to smoke, because, why not. I only smoked once (my lungs get extremely irritated by tobacco smoke, cannabis smoke too), mostly sat with him lounging around while he and some of our friends smoked. I don't think we were doing anything amoral or dangerous to others around us; there was less smoke in the air than if someone was smoking cigarettes.

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Re: Rise in anti-Hookah legislation

Postby fr00t » Tue May 31, 2011 10:52 pm UTC

Dream wrote:Except the staff. Smoking is usually banned in workplaces, and not elsewhere, even if those workplaces are normally associated with tobacco consumption. Slice it whatever way you like, it should never be legal to employ people in a carcinogenic atmosphere.


There are safety standards in place to protect workers, but when the nature of a job necessarily entails a certain danger, and if the employer takes reasonable actions to minimize that danger as well as inform the employees of it, it's acceptable. OSHA allows this sort of thing, e.g. coal mining, climbing and repairing radio towers without safety harnesses, and heightened radiation exposure for nuclear engineers.

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Re: Rise in anti-Hookah legislation

Postby Dream » Tue May 31, 2011 10:59 pm UTC

Bubbles McCoy wrote:I can see this argument applying to bars, as it's unlikely that bars lose much business by banning smoking.

No, that's completely wrong. Even if it were an asbestos mine, where the investors would lose billions and the employees all know exactly how dangerous the environment is, you still close the mine if it is exposing people to carcinogens. People come first, and there's no second, profits don't even register. People working in these places need to work, and they have comparatively little choice. They often work under pressure to pay rent, feed their children and pay their bills. They hardly have significant savings on the wages they make. They can't just "choose" where to work. If it's a bar that offers a job, it's a bar they'll take, and if nowhere else comes through, they'll stay in the bar. That's not choice, even though they choose.

coal mining, climbing and repairing radio towers without safety harnesses, and heightened radiation exposure for nuclear engineers.

Not one of which involves certian exposure to carcinogenic compounds ofver a long period of time. Even coal miners can wear masks. Bar staff (used to) breathe carcinogens on a daily basis with no protection of any kind. It's also entirely unnecessary for a bar to be smoke filled, both in theoretical terms (it's still a bar, it still works) and practical terms (in places that have banned smoking, bars still operate fine).
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Re: Rise in anti-Hookah legislation

Postby Nordic Einar » Wed Jun 01, 2011 12:24 am UTC

I'm pretty sure you're talking past Bubbles, Dream. He's conceded public smoking bans - including in bars/pubs.

Hookah Bars are not pubs - they're dens who's sole purpose is to facilitate smoking. They literally cannot exist w/o smoke, and comparing them to how well pubs operate after smoking bans is disingenuous. Further, every hookah bar I've ever been to was operated by owners and the owner's family, not people who just needed a job. Granted, that's anecdotal, so ymmv.

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Re: Rise in anti-Hookah legislation

Postby Dream » Wed Jun 01, 2011 12:49 am UTC

Nordic, that was directed at fr00t, I just didn't quote the post properly. It was them who said that workplace standards could make it okay to work in a smoke filled atmosphere, not Bubbles.
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Re: Rise in anti-Hookah legislation

Postby Izawwlgood » Wed Jun 01, 2011 1:29 am UTC

I think it's wholly reasonable to ban hookahs and cigarettes from college dorms, as I'm far less concerned with people who are choosing to smoke than I am with people who are choosing not to and being surrounded by smokers.

That said, the solution to control a substance isn't to punish users but to educate them. I didn't realize hookah smoking was as bad as the article asserts, and I wager most people don't either.
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Re: Rise in anti-Hookah legislation

Postby Nordic Einar » Wed Jun 01, 2011 1:51 am UTC

Dream wrote:Nordic, that was directed at fr00t, I just didn't quote the post properly. It was them who said that workplace standards could make it okay to work in a smoke filled atmosphere, not Bubbles.


Ah, okay, that makes much more sense. Yeah, we're basically in agreement there.

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Re: Rise in anti-Hookah legislation

Postby LtNOWIS » Wed Jun 01, 2011 3:39 am UTC

zmatt wrote:Why do they care? I don't understand this war on tobacco. These are adults we are talking about. It's there prerogative to smoke hookah, or cigarettes or pipes or cigars or whatever. Anything beyond educating people who may think that it is safer is a violation of their rights. They enacted a smoking ban at my university two years ago. As far as I can tel lit has had zero effect. I walked around one evening with a cigar. I cop stopped me to make sure I hadn't re rolled it with pot, and then he let me go. He said they don't enforce it because it keeps them from dealing with real problems. Considering the rash of robberies we have had I don't blame him. These laws are simply the work of moral crusaders who some fool let them have power.

But, people also have the right to elect lawmakers and therefore decide what kind of laws they want in their states and localities. In my state, we can't even by liquor except from government-run stores, but nobody has enough of a problem with that rule to change it.

My default policy is to let other states and communities decide things for themselves without casting aspersions on them.

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Re: Rise in anti-Hookah legislation

Postby folkhero » Wed Jun 01, 2011 5:13 am UTC

Dream wrote:
Bubbles McCoy wrote: People come first, and there's no second, profits don't even register. People working in these places need to work, and they have comparatively little choice. They often work under pressure to pay rent, feed their children and pay their bills. They hardly have significant savings on the wages they make. They can't just "choose" where to work. If it's a bar that offers a job, it's a bar they'll take, and if nowhere else comes through, they'll stay in the bar. That's not choice, even though they choose.

You're right that some people have little choice, and they need these jobs to pay bills and feed children. If the hookah bar is the only place where they can find a job, then how does the destruction of that opportunity help them at all?
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Re: Rise in anti-Hookah legislation

Postby Vaniver » Wed Jun 01, 2011 5:20 am UTC

Dream wrote:Even if it were an asbestos mine, where the investors would lose billions and the employees all know exactly how dangerous the environment is, you still close the mine if it is exposing people to carcinogens. People come first, and there's no second, profits don't even register.
Why not let people sell their health? Or if you do approve of some methods of selling health (say, policemen, soldiers, truckers, fishermen, lumberjacks, and so on), how do you differentiate between different risks? It looks like you think cancer is simply unacceptable but accidents are acceptable (no mask will save you from a cave-in), but I hope that's not your position.
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Re: Rise in anti-Hookah legislation

Postby Dream » Wed Jun 01, 2011 11:15 am UTC

Vaniver wrote:It looks like you think cancer is simply unacceptable but accidents are acceptable (no mask will save you from a cave-in), but I hope that's not your position.

Risks are acceptable, certainties are not. The professions you list have risks, which can be managed and can be weighed by staff. Smoky atmospheres do not have a risk, they have a certainty of exposure. After that it is a lottery as to who gets cancer, who develops emphysema or whatever, which is not something that can be managed.

As to the broader question of people selling their health, I oppose that on the grounds that only financially vulnerable people would ever do it. The same way you only sign up for a Congolese coltan mine if you have no other choice, you'd only commodify your health if you were not in a position to take any other option. And I don't think an ethical business can be run in such conditions.
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Re: Rise in anti-Hookah legislation

Postby Czhorat » Wed Jun 01, 2011 5:34 pm UTC

zmatt wrote:Why do they care? I don't understand this war on tobacco. These are adults we are talking about. It's there prerogative to smoke hookah, or cigarettes or pipes or cigars or whatever. Anything beyond educating people who may think that it is safer is a violation of their rights. They enacted a smoking ban at my university two years ago. As far as I can tel lit has had zero effect. I walked around one evening with a cigar. I cop stopped me to make sure I hadn't re rolled it with pot, and then he let me go. He said they don't enforce it because it keeps them from dealing with real problems. Considering the rash of robberies we have had I don't blame him. These laws are simply the work of moral crusaders who some fool let them have power.


The health care system in the United States is almost exclusively based on payments by insurance companies. This means that the cost of treating sick people is incurred by healthy people. Nations with single-payer health care systems pay for illness even more directly.

The pure financial concern - which would on its face be a valid one - doesn't even address the larger societal costs of serious illnesses, including the opportunity cost of medical care being directed toward treatment of conditions which should have been preventable. Charities directing care towards those sick because of their abuse of drugs such as tobacco. Children needing care because their parents got themselves sick. Etc, etc.

You want a "right" to do whatever you want to yourself? That's fine. Buy yourself a ship, sail out into the middle of the ocean somewhere where you don't depend on anyone else and nobody else in society depends on you, directly or indirectly. Then you can smoke whatever you want.

So far as Vaniver's idea of "selling one's health", I'd argue that we tried that before the creation of various occupational health and safety laws. The result was that people without other choices ended up getting sick or killed on the job to make their employers more money. Heck, this year is the centennial anniversary of the Triangle Shirtwaist factory fire. If you want to go back to that kind of world you have my very strongest opposition.

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Re: Rise in anti-Hookah legislation

Postby Heisenberg » Wed Jun 01, 2011 6:08 pm UTC

Czhorat wrote:Buy yourself a ship, sail out into the middle of the ocean somewhere where you don't depend on anyone else and nobody else in society depends on you, directly or indirectly. Then you can smoke whatever you want.

That's what I fucking did! And then I killed off the indigenous, tobbaco-smoking people, and called that place Goddamn Amurca!

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Re: Rise in anti-Hookah legislation

Postby Vaniver » Thu Jun 02, 2011 10:36 am UTC

Dream wrote:Risks are acceptable, certainties are not. The professions you list have risks, which can be managed and can be weighed by staff. Smoky atmospheres do not have a risk, they have a certainty of exposure. After that it is a lottery as to who gets cancer, who develops emphysema or whatever, which is not something that can be managed.
But... a certainty of exposure is just a risk of getting sick.

Dream wrote:As to the broader question of people selling their health, I oppose that on the grounds that only financially vulnerable people would ever do it.
Only financially vulnerable people take high-stress positions? Are you thinking clearly about this issue?

Czhorat wrote:So far as Vaniver's idea of "selling one's health", I'd argue that we tried that before the creation of various occupational health and safety laws.
The last I checked, people were still mortal, and occupation predicted life expectancy better than "race, gender, marriage status, rural vs. urban, education, and income combined!"
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Re: Rise in anti-Hookah legislation

Postby Dream » Thu Jun 02, 2011 11:21 am UTC

Vaniver wrote:But... a certainty of exposure is just a risk of getting sick.

It's a risk for any one individual. It is a certainty for some number of all employees. There is no certainty of being in a mining accident or being in a car crash in a police pursuit. When things like that happen each instance is the result of very specific circumstances, which can be managed and affected. They can "do better next time", or something similar. That can't happen for a certain exposure to carcinogens for 100% of employees. Both are risks, but they are qualitatively different from one another.
Vaniver wrote:Only financially vulnerable people take high-stress positions? Are you thinking clearly about this issue?

A job is only as stressful as you allow it to affect you. One stock broker (apocryphally) jumps out a window, another shrugs and loses another few billion the next day. Stress isn't inherent in any particular job, unless you're going to find some way to make a supermarket cashier who's stressed about their timekeeping less relevant than our plummeting stockbroker there. So they aren't selling their health, they're working in spite of their personal vulnerability to a condition that isn't caused by their job by its nature. That's far from the same thing as a job wherein 100% of people are affected in their health, which is what I would say commodification of employee's health is.
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Re: Rise in anti-Hookah legislation

Postby Czhorat » Thu Jun 02, 2011 12:29 pm UTC

Vaniver wrote:
Czhorat wrote:So far as Vaniver's idea of "selling one's health", I'd argue that we tried that before the creation of various occupational health and safety laws.
The last I checked, people were still mortal, and occupation predicted life expectancy better than "race, gender, marriage status, rural vs. urban, education, and income combined!"


The article you linked is a bit dense and not clearly enough written for me to dig into it now as I start my workday. If true, it makes an excellent argument in favor of more robust occupational safety and health hazards, especially if many of the "worst" jobs are low-skill, low-educational requirement jobs taken by people who can't pay the opportunity cost to train for something better.

In fact, if you believe the conclusion I don't understand how you could NOT in turn favor more robust workplace safety and health regulation.

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Re: Rise in anti-Hookah legislation

Postby Heisenberg » Thu Jun 02, 2011 2:16 pm UTC

Czhorat wrote:In fact, if you believe the conclusion I don't understand how you could NOT in turn favor more robust workplace safety and health regulation.

Probably because you choose to go to work, and if you're really concerned about your stress level, or the smoke level, or the robot-apocalypse-likelihood level, you can stop going to work. Also, every individual will rate these risks differently, so while I may choose to accept certain risks at my workplace, others might not.

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Re: Rise in anti-Hookah legislation

Postby Czhorat » Thu Jun 02, 2011 2:23 pm UTC

Heisenberg wrote:
Czhorat wrote:In fact, if you believe the conclusion I don't understand how you could NOT in turn favor more robust workplace safety and health regulation.

Probably because you choose to go to work...


I don't know about you, but I'd rather not go to work. I could think of tons of more enjoyable things to do with my time. I need to go to work so I can afford shelter, food, clothing, and enough small luxuries to stave off insanity.

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Re: Rise in anti-Hookah legislation

Postby emceng » Thu Jun 02, 2011 2:55 pm UTC

Czhorat wrote:In fact, if you believe the conclusion I don't understand how you could NOT in turn favor more robust workplace safety and health regulation.



Because of cost. What if being exposed to motor oil showed health issues? Would you be willing to spend $100, $200, or $500 for a simple oil change for your car? Plus the additional time needed. Instead of 20 minutes, now it takes 3 hours due to regulations and safety requirements.

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Re: Rise in anti-Hookah legislation

Postby Vaniver » Thu Jun 02, 2011 3:11 pm UTC

Dream wrote:It's a risk for any one individual. It is a certainty for some number of all employees. There is no certainty of being in a mining accident or being in a car crash in a police pursuit. When things like that happen each instance is the result of very specific circumstances, which can be managed and affected. They can "do better next time", or something similar. That can't happen for a certain exposure to carcinogens for 100% of employees. Both are risks, but they are qualitatively different from one another.
I don't think this qualitative difference actually exists. If a hundred workers are exposed to elevated levels of radiation, it is not certain that any of them will develop cancer, just like in a hundred workers are mining it is not certain that any of them will die in an accident. The 'very specific circumstances'- i.e. acknowledgement that we can't predict everything- comes into play in both cases. Risks are risks. It may be that we have the illusion that we can control human risks and don't have that illusion for physical risks, but that's just an illusion- just like each police officer can try super hard to not get into a car crash, each worker can try super hard to not develop cancer.

Dream wrote:A job is only as stressful as you allow it to affect you. One stock broker (apocryphally) jumps out a window, another shrugs and loses another few billion the next day. Stress isn't inherent in any particular job, unless you're going to find some way to make a supermarket cashier who's stressed about their timekeeping less relevant than our plummeting stockbroker there.
Even if you have a perfect destressor, you can rarely use it on the job- and so the person whose job involves getting screamed at all day will still suffer for the time they're on the job even if they immediately lose all that stress when they go off the clock.

Dream wrote:So they aren't selling their health, they're working in spite of their personal vulnerability to a condition that isn't caused by their job by its nature. That's far from the same thing as a job wherein 100% of people are affected in their health, which is what I would say commodification of employee's health is.
I don't get what you're trying to say here. If only 99% of people who go into a particular mine develop black lung, does that mean miners aren't selling their health as part of working in that mine? If those miners are, why not people who face only a 2% or a .02% risk? If the risk isn't black lung, but just general illness brought on by stress, if the stress is traceable back to the job why not treat it like black lung?

Time is a commodity; health is a commodity. The question is whether we're honest about that and let people trade what they want to trade, or whether we're dishonest about it. I strongly prefer honesty, since that generally results in better information. If hookahs increase the chance of lung cancer, inform people and let them choose.

Czhorat wrote:If true, it makes an excellent argument in favor of more robust occupational safety and health hazards, especially if many of the "worst" jobs are low-skill, low-educational requirement jobs taken by people who can't pay the opportunity cost to train for something better.

In fact, if you believe the conclusion I don't understand how you could NOT in turn favor more robust workplace safety and health regulation.
Because this isn't the sort of thing that you can regulate away. People whose jobs use organizational skills die sooner than people whose jobs use technical skills. Should we pass legislation banning management? Or should managers demand more pay to balance out the health losses from stress?

This also isn't a class warfare issue. The way to read that table is that >1 is bad, and <1 is good. You're best off using fine motor abilities, engineering knowledge, and technical skills to reason through complex interactions with people over things, and worst off using business knowledge and organizational skills to analyze and decide physically demanding, socially challenging cooperation.

Politics, as a field dominated by moral reasoning, naturally has lots of binary decisions. X is either approved or banned. But the far better way to look at things is economics, as it has amoral reasoning: things can adjust until they find an equilibrium at the right price. As X becomes less safe to produce, the price for it will go up- decreasing the amount of people who are willing to pay for X, decreasing the health loss and moving it to the people most willing to accept it. (And no, amoral reasoning does not mean no desires besides money; people want money because they can trade it for something else. It just means a willingness to compare all desires using the same scale.)
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Re: Rise in anti-Hookah legislation

Postby Sockmonkey » Thu Jun 02, 2011 6:26 pm UTC

Am I the only one who suspects this of being more of an anti-middle-eastern thing since those are the cultures most associated with hookahs?

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Re: Rise in anti-Hookah legislation

Postby Thesh » Thu Jun 02, 2011 11:12 pm UTC

Sockmonkey wrote:Am I the only one who suspects this of being more of an anti-middle-eastern thing since those are the cultures most associated with hookahs?


I suspect it's a combination of being popular among young people (damned kids! back in mah day we didn't smoke them hookahs!), and "Hey, that's a bong!", mixed in with the anti-smoking lobby.
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Re: Rise in anti-Hookah legislation

Postby Griffin » Fri Jun 03, 2011 2:59 am UTC

See, here's the thing.

If they were concerned about the health issues for employees?

They would pass laws requiring safer working conditions.

They aren't. They don't. This is because they think smoking is wrong, and the "workplace safety" issues are an excuse.

I have never, not once, seen a proposal for a law to mandate breathing filters for smoking bar employees. Yet, I don't see people banning mining, or lobster fishing, or roofing because of the dangers. And the last one, at least, is a hell of a lot more dangerous than working at a hookah bar.
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Re: Rise in anti-Hookah legislation

Postby el_loco_avs » Fri Jun 03, 2011 10:32 am UTC

Where's the tobacco lobby when you need them?
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Re: Rise in anti-Hookah legislation

Postby Vaniver » Fri Jun 03, 2011 10:36 am UTC

el_loco_avs wrote:Where's the tobacco lobby when you need them?
There isn't a tobacco lobby so much as there is a cigarette lobby. They have a lot more money than the farmers do, and tobacco farmers have some of the least clout among farmers.
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Re: Rise in anti-Hookah legislation

Postby el_loco_avs » Fri Jun 03, 2011 11:10 am UTC

Vaniver wrote:
el_loco_avs wrote:Where's the tobacco lobby when you need them?
There isn't a tobacco lobby so much as there is a cigarette lobby. They have a lot more money than the farmers do, and tobacco farmers have some of the least clout among farmers.



Get a hookah lobby then >_< I don't think one form of tobacco should be treated different to others. Just put your gruesome warnings on them, tax 'em and let people enjoy stuff in their own home.
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Re: Rise in anti-Hookah legislation

Postby Dream » Fri Jun 03, 2011 11:31 am UTC

Vaniver wrote:I don't get what you're trying to say here. If only 99% of people who go into a particular mine develop black lung, does that mean miners aren't selling their health as part of working in that mine?

If a 99c mask is all you need to prevent a hazard, then there is no relation between that hazard and the nature of the job. There is instead a relationship between dangerous and illegal mistreatment of workers and that hazard.

Market economics dictate that only people with no other choice would work in such a situation. In fact, they dictate that such a business would only exist in a situation where labour that is coerced by some external factor into doing the work also exists. There simply wouldn't be the pressure to mistreat employees were the funding available to pay them enough to make such risks worthwhile. This is regularly demonstrated empirically in investigations into very dangerous working conditions around the world.
Vaniver wrote:The question is whether we're honest about that and let people trade what they want to trade, or whether we're dishonest about it. I strongly prefer honesty, since that generally results in better information.

Are you willing to change the opinion that an informed market is the highest good in the face of evidence that information does not change employment conditions absent some external force, like legislation or trade unionism? Because employees knowing about risks hasn't led to the failure of any risk-laden businesses I'm aware of. Everything from illegal mining operations to child brothels still find employees who are aware of the risks and still fail to alter their practises to protect workers.
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Re: Rise in anti-Hookah legislation

Postby Vaniver » Sat Jun 04, 2011 12:56 am UTC

Dream- I don't think we're communicating effectively, and so I'd like to return to your original point: I don't think people should be prohibited from working in a carcinogenic atmosphere. I think it is madness to pretend that people consider their health an absolute value (such that "profits don't even register"), because they demonstrably don't. If someone takes their paycheck from the coal mine and spends it on cigarettes, their actions are revealing how much they care about their respiratory health.

When we talk about protective gear, it should be clear we need to do cost-benefit analyses, and that many things will make great sense, and other things won't be worth it. (You wouldn't pay a thousand dollars to avoid a one in a million chance of death, would you? That's the equivalent of losing about half an hour of your life.) To do a cost-benefit analysis, though, we need to have a quantification of the benefit- and it seems like each person is the best judge of how much their life is worth to them, since they make the most choices about the risks they face. It doesn't make sense to pay $10 to reduce someone's chance of death by one in a million when they'll accept a one in a million chance of death to earn $5.

I agree with you that there are collective action problems- the breath masks may only be 99c if the employer buys them for everyone but twice as much if the employees have to buy them themselves, and worth 150c to the employees on average. Unions are probably the optimal solution to those sorts of collective action problems- though the union could possibly buy the gear for the workers more easily than it could convince the employer to buy the gear.

I think we disagree, though, on how cheaply someone can be allowed to value their own life. I'm even willing to let that number go negative.
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Re: Rise in anti-Hookah legislation

Postby iop » Sat Jun 04, 2011 1:16 am UTC

Vaniver wrote:Time is a commodity; health is a commodity. The question is whether we're honest about that and let people trade what they want to trade, or whether we're dishonest about it. I strongly prefer honesty, since that generally results in better information. If hookahs increase the chance of lung cancer, inform people and let them choose.

Who will pay for the externalities? It's all fine and dandy to "let them choose", but are we willing to pay for the cost of their illness later?

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Re: Rise in anti-Hookah legislation

Postby Vaniver » Sat Jun 04, 2011 1:22 am UTC

iop wrote:Who will pay for the externalities? It's all fine and dandy to "let them choose", but are we willing to pay for the cost of their illness later?
I agree individual choice and social responsibility is not a good combination, but would rather have both be individual than both be social. Even if you do have social responsibility, though, it makes fiscal sense to encourage people to smoke, since their lifetime health costs are lower (as they die sooner).
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Re: Rise in anti-Hookah legislation

Postby iop » Sat Jun 04, 2011 1:37 am UTC

Vaniver wrote:it makes fiscal sense to encourage people to smoke, since their lifetime health costs are lower (as they die sooner).

Not really (pdf is free btw). Though it may be interesting to check whether the increased tax revenue from smokers outweighs the social costs - though given tax-deductible health expenditures and shorter lives, it may be hard to pay enough taxes.

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Re: Rise in anti-Hookah legislation

Postby Tirian » Sat Jun 04, 2011 3:47 am UTC

Yeah, I was finding studies on both sides, but seemingly more on the side that smokers have higher lifetime health costs since they're sicker (and not just at the end but throughout their life), which gets measured not just in their medical bills but in productivity measures like increased sick days over non-smokers.


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