Watch for "Accommodation" Alternatives
Accommodation is the tobacco industry's policy goal of allowing people to smoke when nonsmokers are in the same place. This goal serves to maintain an environment of social acceptability of smoking and to enable product consumption. The industry goal is for smokers to be able to light up anytime, anywhere to consume tobacco products and build Big Tobacco profits. The tobacco industry set up an Accommodation Program dedicated to promoting this strategy.
The following are some of the many forms that accommodation assumes, including Red Light-Green Light, minors only or hours provisions, and ventilation alternatives.
Red Light-Green Light
"Red Light - Green Light" is a well-known tobacco industry strategy. The policy requires that establishments post signs indicating their smoking status. "Red Light-Green Light" policies not only provide an illusion that elected officials have done something about the problem, but try to convince the public that patrons have given their informed consent to be in smoke-filled environments. Of course, employees have no say in whether their employer posts a red sign (smokefree environment, smokers stop) or a green sign (smoking allowed, smokers come in).
A new twist on "Red Light-Green Light" recently appeared in Eden Prarie, Minnesota, in the form of a Gold Star Rating System, where more stars on the front door meant less smoke inside. Like "Red Light-Green Light", this star rating system does nothing to protect health. If either policy is proposed in your town, point out that it is merely a diversion away from effective policy.
Minors Only/Hours Provisions
Policymakers often look for compromises on what they perceive are controversial issues. The opposition often seeks to provide those compromises in the form of minors-only provisions and hours provisions. Minor's-only provisions allow smoking in places that don't allow children. Of course, secondhand smoke affects everyone, regardless of age. Hours provisions allow smoking during certain hours of operation. Unfortunately, employees often have no choice what shift they have to work.
The bottom line is that ventilation does not work. There is no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke, and ventilation systems address only odor, not the health risks caused by secondhand smoke. Despite this fact, tobacco companies and their allies continue to promote ventilation systems as an alternative to smokefree laws.