Smoking regulations - air purifiers - 4/7/2004

Smoking regulations
Air quality report completed
Cynthia Busuttil
Technical specifications on air quality in enclosed spaces where smoking takes place have been drawn up by a technical committee of the Malta Standards Authority and is expected to be handed over to Health Minister Louis Deguara "imminently".
Michael Cassar, engineer at the standardisation directorate who was in charge of the technical committee, explained that the aim of the committee was to lay down specifications that would reduce the effect of smoking on non-smokers.
Asked whether the technical committee had recommended the use of air purification equipment, Mr Cassar said there was no evidence showing that such a device was effective enough and, therefore, it had been decided that entertainment establishments would either have to have a separate smoking room or else make the establishment wholly non-smoking.
Specifications about smoking rooms are included in the MSA report, which will be available to the public after it is presented to Dr Deguara.
The smoking regulations will start coming into force in entertainment establishments as from October.
Initially the regulations were due to come into force in all public places as from last April but after complaints by owners of entertainment establishments, spearheaded by the Chamber for Small and Medium Sized Enterprises (GRTU), the Health Minister decided to delay the introduction of the smoking ban in such establishments by up to a year.
In fact, establishments measuring over 60 square metres were given six months to designate specific smoking areas while those measuring under 60 square meters have until April 2005 to meet air levels established by the MSA.
The possible introduction of air purification systems had been highly criticised by the president of the World Medical Association, Jim Appleyard, who visited Malta in April. In an interview with The Times, Dr Appleyard said the introduction of air purifying systems instead of a total ban on smoking in public places was a "con trick" and a "dishonest" way of misleading the population.
He had stressed that air cleaning systems removed some of the dangerous substances but not all, thus leaving harmful substances in the air.

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