New smoking ban

The ban on smoking in Alexandria bars began the first day of New Year, and anti-smoking crusaders have touted the health benefits, as a sufficient reason for Lafayette to become the second largest city in Louisiana to ban smoking in drinking establishments.
Louisiana Campaign for Tobacco-Free Living, or TLF, conducted air quality tests inside the bar of Alexandria both before and after the anti-smoking decree came into force earlier this year, and the results show dramatically healthier air for the bar.
Kelly Anderson, a representative of TFL, said she had delivered
copies of the new air-quality tests for each of the nine-member city of the Parish Council, as well as the City-Parish President Joey Durel and Chief Administrative Officer Dee Stanley on Tuesday afternoon.
In TFL, after air monitoring regulations, which took place in dozens of bars of Alexandria and gaming facilities in which smoking is also banned, showed it was 97-percent reduction in pollution levels in these facilities, and indoor air is now 36 times cleaner.
The level of pollution in those who are smoking bars, TFL says, “is almost as clean as the outside air in Alexandria.” Before the decree came into force, testing, TFL found the average air quality in 17 bars and gaming facilities in Alexandria, to be “hazardous air quality.”
TFL officials tested the air quality at 22 Lafayette area bars that allow smoking from December 22, 2010 to January 5, 2011, and found that 17 of the bar, or 77 percent, was “unhealthy” and “very unhealthy” or “dangerous” levels of air quality . Nine percent of the sampled bars smoking at the time were “good” air quality, while 5 percent fell into the “moderate” range, and 9 percent place “harmful to vulnerable groups.”
Anderson and her colleagues TFL were meeting with government officials Lafayette Consolidated almost a year. In April, The Daily Advertiser reported on the efforts of the group to pass anti-smoking regulations in cities throughout the state, and in November, The Daily Advertiser reported on the success of Alexandria in the adoption of this law.
In both April and November, Lafayette politicians said the smoking ban is not a front burner issue. All nine councilors, however, said they would be open to talk if people want it.
In an article published in November, The Daily Advertiser interviewed eight members of the Council who are elected to office in October, as well as the two candidates competing in the round of elections for the ninth seat council. No one said that they certainly support efforts to ban smoking in bars.
MEMBERS Jared Bellard, District 5, and William Theriot, District number 9, and said they would, of course, against this ruling, because individual entrepreneurs, not government, should decide if smoking should be allowed in these establishments.
Andy Naquin, who joined the Board in January in the region of 6 representative, said that the need to talk with voters before deciding how he would vote on a resolution to ban smoking in bars.
Kevin Naquin, who joined the council in January in an area representative, said that the need to explore fully and to talk with all interested parties before deciding if he will or will not support such decisions. Any other board member echoed that sentiment.

Nelson wants casino smoking ban lifted

Deadwood casinos that have blamed the smoking ban for a loss in revenue over the past year could get a break if state Sen. Tom Nelson, R-Lead, gets his way.
Nelson has drafted legislation that will exempt Deadwood casinos from the smoking ban.
The voter-approved ban that was enacted in November 2010 is being blamed for a drop in gambling revenue, which is the main reason an exemption should be considered, according to the state senator.
“The smoking ban has been devastating to gaming revenue,” Nelson said. “The governor in his address said gaming revenue was down because of the smoking ban.”
Casino owners were hoping revenue would bounce back quickly once the ban was implemented, but it has not, Nelson said.
Total gambling revenue last month was 6.87 percent higher than revenue in November 2010, when the ban was first passed. But it was one of the few months in 2011 in which revenue was up year over year. Overall, gambling brought in $99.7 million from January to November in 2010 compared to $93.7 million over the same time period in 2011.
On principle, businesses should be able to decide whether they want to allow smoking, Nelson said.
“It needs to be a business decision regardless,” he said.
The exemption would affect the gambling floor only; the ban would remain at restaurants and bars, he said.
Though Nelson recognizes the health concerns that helped pass the ban last year, he believes voters would still have passed the ban even if a gambling exemption had been worked into the bill.
“It’s a health issue, and nobody’s going to argue that. I agree 1,000 percent that second-hand smoke is bad,” he said. But “if Deadwood exemptions had been (in the ban), it would have passed by the same margin.”
Cleo Snow, general manager of Miss Kitty’s casino, agreed that the smoking ban has hurt business.
“I’ve noticed a drop in people that come,” Snow said. “Everybody thought we’d get all the non-smokers. They didn’t come.”
Many gamblers are looking for a complete gambling experience, according to Snow.
“A drink in one hand, a cigarette in the other hand and pushing a button, all go hand in hand,” she said.
Snow acknowledges the atmosphere of a smoke-free room is appealing.
“I love the smell of it not being smoky in here, but we need people coming back,” she said. “You don’t want to stand outside in sub-zero weather to smoke.”
At least one casino worker likes the smoke-free environment in Deadwood.
Marty Weissinger, who has worked in the gambling industry for 21 years, is a slot tech and bartender at Deadwood Gulch. He prefers an environment where children don’t have to inhale smoke and where gamblers don’t drop cigarette butts on the floor, he said.
“Everybody has a right to smoke as far as that goes, but there’s two sides of a coin. Everybody has a right to not be breathing secondhand smoke,” he said.
The legislation would also exempt service, fraternal and veteran’s organizations with liquor licenses.
rapidcityjournal.com

Kentucky lawmaker to propose statewide smoking ban

FRANKFORT, KY. — Backed by a coalition of health and anti-smoking groups, Rep. Susan Westrom said Wednesday that she plans to file a bill for the 2012 legislative session to enact a statewide smoking ban in public places.
Testifying before the interim joint Health and Welfare Committee, the Lexington Democrat said she believes it’s time for lawmakers to adopt a statewide law similar to ordinances already enacted in some localities, including Louisville and Lexington.
“Those of you who have some concerns, think about the tax consequences,” Westrom said, referring to the public health costs associated with smoking.
Kentucky continues to have one of the nation’s highest rates of adult smoking, at 26 percent.
But Westrom said attitudes about smoking have changed — particularly regarding exposure to secondhand smoke — and she believes public support is growing for such a ban.
“Take time to talk to your constituents,” she said to lawmakers on the panel. “You’ll be absolutely stunned.”
Among those speaking in support of a statewide law were David Adkisson, president of the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce, who said a majority of business owners the chamber surveyed back such a measure. He said employers are increasingly concerned about the health costs and lost productivity associated with smoking.
“Smoking is not only killing us, it’s bankrupting us,” Adkisson said.
Also speaking in support were Dr. John Johnstone, a Madison County cardiologist, and Scott Lockard, public health director of the Clark County Health Department.
“I have seen personally the ravages of tobacco smoke,” Johnstone said, adding that that includes people exposed to secondhand smoke. “There is no safe level of exposure to smoke.”
Westrom’s measure also has the support of a group called Smoke Free Kentucky, which plans to work on behalf of the bill during the 2012 session, said Amy Barkley of with the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids.
Westrom said she plans to file the bill before the legislature convenes in January. It would ban smoking in enclosed indoor public spaces, such as offices or other workplaces, stores, restaurants and shopping malls.
It would not extend to outdoor areas, such as parks, she said. But communities could pass even stricter requirements.
No one spoke against the measure at Wednesday’s hearing.
Rep. Tom Burch, D-Louisville, and Sen. Julie Denton, R-Louisville, the committee co-chairmen, both spoke in favor of it.
“We do have a right to clean air,” Denton said. “I would like to see your bill pass.”
Burch said attitudes about smoking have changed since he introduced a bill some 25 years ago to restrict smoking in public.
It was assigned to the tobacco-friendly House agriculture committee. When Burch came forward to present the bill, he said, “every member of the committee lit up cigarettes.”
At that point, Burch said he told supporters, “I think the bill is in trouble.”
Smoking wasn’t restricted in all public parts of the Capitol and the Capitol Anex until 2004, when lawmakers banned smoking in legislative areas, including committee meeting rooms.
By Deborah Yetter, Courier-journal
(502) 582-4228.

California's adult smoking rate at a record low

California’s numbers are down, but this time it’s a good thing. The state’s adult smoking rate is at a record low, with just 11.9 percent of adults lighting up.
Smoking rates are down across gender, ethnic and age groups in California — although men, African-Americans and people age 25 to 44 still have the highest rates in their respective categories.
But the lower adult smoking rate is a milestone for the Golden State.
“We’ve now reached a 50 percent decline from 1988, when the Tobacco Tax Initiative went into effect,” said Colleen Stevens, chief of the Tobacco Control Branch of California’s Department of Public Health, referring to adult smokers.
The Tobacco Tax Initiative, also known as Proposition 99, levied a 25-cent tax on every pack of cigarettes sold in California. Part of those taxes funded the state’s Tobacco Control Program, which aims to reduce tobacco use and improve the health of every Californian.
The program is entirely paid for by Proposition 99. And as the number of smokers in California has declined, so has its funding. “But, our job is to put ourselves out of business,” said Stevens, who has been with Tobacco Control since its start 20 years ago.
She points to the resulting benefits, including programs conducted and supported by these funds saving Californians $86 billion in health care costs.
“Growing up, it seemed like everyone was smoking,” Stevens said. Some of her schoolteachers would even light up in the classroom. But with the proliferation of policies banning smoking in indoor workplaces and in bars, and a shift in attitude toward the inappropriateness of smoking, “we have a whole new generation who isn’t as addicted (to smoking),” Stevens said.
This is particularly encouraging, since the longer someone smokes, the harder it is to quit.
“But it’s never too late for someone to quit,” said Janet Ghanem, project director for Seniors Breathe Easy with the nonprofit Breathe California of the Bay Area. Ghanem focuses on teaching smokers who want to quit strategies to manage their cravings.
While there’s no one technique that works for everyone, Ghanem says that having a strong support network, breathing deeply and distracting yourself are good ways to resist the smoldering sirens curled inside each cigarette.
“It had such a strong hold on me,” said Heidi Carroll, a 33-year-old Santa Clara resident with a pack-a-day habit. Carroll started smoking when she was 13 and has tried to quit since her early 20s. But nothing seemed to work. She said she would end up in tears because she was so desperate to quit.
Carroll finally tried hypnosis, but it didn’t take the first time she did it. “I went out and bought a pack that evening,” she said.
But after a couple weeks of feeling depressed about her latest setback, Carroll went back for a second session and has been smoke-free for 10 months.
“When I quit, it gave me a sense of power and control over my mind and body,” Carroll said. That sense of empowerment enabled her to lose weight, and she dropped 30 pounds several months after quitting. “Now I feel fantastic.”
By Jane J. Lee
jlee@mercurynews.com

Smoking ban defeated among many bills

Business continues at a fast pace as lawmakers work through lengthy committee hearings and floor calendars. This brief summary includes some of the legislative action recently taken by the State Senate and House of Representatives.
Statewide smoking ban defeated
Expressing concerns that there were too many exemptions included in legislation proposing a statewide smoking ban, and that the bill had morphed into only a partial ban, members of the Senate Public Policy Committee voted to defeat HB 1018. The measure was approved in the House by a vote of 68-31, but  was amended to include exemptions for bars, fraternal clubs, casinos, and nursing homes.
Alcohol sales
Legislation which would amend an unpopular law approved last year requiring retail clerks to request photo identification including birth dates for all customers purchasing alcohol for carry out is under consideration in both chambers. The Senate Public Policy Committee approved HB 1325 after amending the language to require clerks to card only those customers who reasonably appear to be younger than the age of 50. A similar bill, Senate Bill (SB) 78, is currently under House consideration. However, that bill stipulates an age requirement of 40.
House action
The House approved several bills which are awaiting final consideration by the governor. Senate Enrolled Act (SEA) 47 would make several changes to Indiana’s laws regarding riverboat casinos, including the elimination of a requirement that the boats have motors and crews, allowing the boats to remain permanently docked. The measure would also allow casinos to host large card tournaments at hotels and other meeting sites located on property owned or leased by the casinos.
These changes would provide the riverboats more flexibility and allow them to be competitive with anticipated casino expansion in surrounding states.
SEA 549 would establish the Indiana Public Retirement System to administer and manage the state’s 10 pension funds.
Expected to be signed into law, the bill would create a nine-member Board of Trustees appointed by the governor to oversee and make investment decisions on state retirement funds for public employees, teachers, judges, prosecuting attorneys, excise police, conservation and gaming officers, police, firefighters and state legislators. Lawmakers expect SEA 549 will lower administrative and investment costs and generate higher investment returns.
The House Education Committee made substantial changes to SB 577, a bill pertaining to the state’s 21st Century Scholars program and another scholarship program designed to help the children of disabled veterans attend college. The 21st Century Scholars program provides scholarships for children of low income families. SB 577 included changes to the program which would have tightened up financial and academic requirements. Under changes made by the House committee, all language pertaining to that program was removed from the bill. For the children of disabled veterans, the bill now provides that scholarships issued must be used before age 32, all federal tuition aid must be used first, and parents must reside in Indiana.
The House Roads and Transportation Committee advanced SB 473, a bill dealing with public-private partnerships. The measure would provide the governor, along with the Indiana Department of Transportation and the Indiana Financing Authority, total authority to create or convert existing highways to toll roads.
The committee removed a provision that would have restored the need for legislative review as of July 1, 2015. Opponents of the bill expressed concerns about taking the legislature out of the decision-making process permanently. The bill now advances to the full House for its consideration.
New laws
Among the bills recently signed into law, House Enrolled Act (HEA) 1405 provides that a retail establishment that knowingly sells or distributes a dissolvable tobacco product to a person less than 18 years of age or a person who purchases a dissolvable tobacco product for delivery to a person less than 18 years of age commits a class C infraction. To see a complete list of bills signed into law, visit http://www.in.gov/gov/billwatch.htm.
Upcoming deadlines
April 18 – Deadline for Senate committee hearings on House bills
April 21 – Deadline for Senate to consider House bills
April 29 – By law, session must conclude business and adjourn by midnight
To stay informed about bills moving through the General Assembly or to track legislation, log on to www.in.gov/legislative. From this site, you can also watch House and Senate committee hearings and session floor debate.

Smoking Bans Hitting Home

NewYork
New York has been taking an increasingly tough stance toward smoking, but virtually all residential buildings have drawn the line at telling people they can’t smoke in their own apartments.
That may be changing. At least half a dozen Manhattan co-ops are expected to ask shareholders during annual meetings this spring to vote on an all-out smoking ban that would prohibit residents from lighting up in their own homes, real estate attorneys say.
Another dozen co-op or condo buildings are considering such a vote.
New York City already prohibits smoking in public areas at any building with at least 10 apartments. Attorneys say a number of recent developments have encouraged some buildings to pursue a total prohibition. These include growing concerns over secondhand smoke, the city’s recent decision to slap smoking restrictions on parks and other public areas, and fears that residents will sue each other—or the building—over smoking disputes.
“At every single board meeting we get complaints about smoke and people asking us when will the board do something,” says Steven Michaelson, president of an Upper East Side condominium that is holding a vote soon on banning all smoking.
Some boards, like Mr. Michaelson’s, are putting it to a vote again after a previous effort to ban all smoking failed. Others, like shareholders at a Sutton Place co-op, are considering a vote for the first time.
The issue can pit neighbors against each other, and not always along the lines of their taste for nicotine.
Younger residents who grew up in smoke-free public environments tend to be more anti-smoking than older residents. Condo buyers who bought as an investment often oppose a ban, reluctant to limit their pool of renters and fearful they could get stuck with fines if their tenants get caught puffing.
“It’s the one topic, aside from bedbugs, that all co-op boards are talking about,” says Aaron Shmulewitz, a Manhattan real-estate attorney.
The city’s health department says only about 16% of New Yorkers characterize themselves as smokers.
But there are still plenty of reasons why these bans might be tough to enact.
Most co-ops require at least two-thirds of all shares to vote in favor of a ban for it to pass, while condos may require three-quarters of all unit owners to approve a ban.
Some people think that enforcing an apartment ban would be difficult, while other homeowners are concerned that a smoking ban might reduce the property’s value, says Jeff Reich, a real-estate attorney.
Many smokers—and some non-smokers—worry that it would go too far in infringing on privacy rights. “They feel that banning smoking from their homes impedes on their freedom,” says Mr. Michaelson, the condo president.
A co-op at 200 E. 74th St. voted down a full smoking ban a couple of years ago, despite what one lawyer said was strong antismoker sentiment among many residents. Representatives of the building couldn’t be reached for comment.
Some recent court decisions are helping to fuel the drive to ban smoking in apartment buildings.
In 2006, a civil court judge in Manhattan ruled that second-hand smoke could be a breach of “warranty of habitability” under state law. That led some attorneys to suggest that shareholders might be excused from paying maintenance fees if second-hand smoke permeates their apartment and they could sue their co-op for damages.
A couple who live at 200 Chambers St. are suing a neighbor for up to $25,000, plus fees and damages, saying their neighbor’s smoke enters their apartment. Christian and Britt Ewen allege that the smoke caused health problems for them and their 3-year-old daughter, according to the complaint.
Ms. Ewen says they have to open the windows to dilute the smoke, which was a problem in the winter.
“We had to decide between getting sick from the cold or from the cigarette smoke,” Ms. Ewen says.
A civil court denied the neighbor’s motion to dismiss the case. He is appealing that decision.
Steven Sladkus was an attorney for the co-op board at Lincoln Towers in 2002 when the board voted to ban smoking in all units. The board quickly rescinded that ban after its insurance company balked at paying defense costs if the board was sued over the action, Mr. Sladkus says.
Some developers, meanwhile, have already instituted partial bans. Related Cos. owns two downtown and one Upper West Side residential rental properties where existing tenants can smoke in their apartments but new tenants cannot.
“We expect those buildings will be at least 97% smoke-free within three years,” says Jeff Brodsky, president of Related Management. “And we could add new buildings that will be entirely smoke-free.”
By Craig Karmin: craig.karmin@wsj.com

Spain Plans To Close Restaurants That Infringe Smoking Ban

A restaurant that infringes Spain’s new law prohibiting smoking in bars and other canteens will be closed, according to government restaurants smoking banofficials.
Anti-smoking officials accompanied by police officers will visit the restaurant in the resort town of Marbella and require it to observe the law or close it for two months, according to Andalusian Health Minister Maria Jesus Montero.
But the manager Javier Milla stated that the Asador Guadalmina restaurant will not keep the law and wants to continue allowing customers smoke. The law that imposes stricter restrictions on smoking in public places was adopted on January, 2. Jose Camison the owner of Asador Guadalmina has been the law’s most evident infringer.
Milla stated that the law is affecting the sector and is unconstitutional. It doesn’t have any sense for the government to supervise tobacco sales in Spain and then not permit people to smoke it in some places. Probably the best idea would be to set aside nonsmoking sections in restaurants and bars. “My customers thank us all the time for allowing them smoke. Even know there are about 10 people smoking in the restaurants,” Milla stated. The Andalusian government issued a fine of euro145, 000 ($200,000) against this restaurant, but Arias Camison declared that he wont pay it. “We will fight until the end. I throw down the glove to the Health Ministry.”
Spain’s main restaurant has foretold that the law will cause 145,000 lost jobs and a 10% drop in profit for the sector, but the Health Ministry stated that similar laws implemented in Italy, France and Britain didn’t affect business. The given law has made Spain a stricter place to smoke than many EU countries where restaurants and bars are still permitted to have specially designed smoking areas. It also bans smoking in outdoor places such as playgrounds territories near schools and hospitals.
The previous Spain’s anti-smoking law adopted in 2006, and targeted at eradicating smoking and smoking-related diseases and deaths prohibited smoking in the workplace, and workers are often seen smoking outside their offices. Many critics named it a failure most of all because it permitted most bar and restaurants owners to decide whether to allow smoking or not, and of course the majority permitted it.
From now on bar and cafes owners will lose this privilege, and larger restaurants that have separate smoking areas will have to remove them. Government officials forecast that thousands of lives that would have been affected by smoking and secondhand smoke will now be saved.

Smoking ban bills could affect Big Country business

Smoking is not allowed in most public places in Abilene, but about 10 miles south of town, patrons of the Bar-B-Que Barn in Buffalo Smoking banGap are still permitted to pull up a bar stool and light a cigarette.
Currently, Texas cities decide on an individual basis whether to allow smoking in public, but that may change if a proposed statewide smoking ban gets support from lawmakers in Austin.
A pair of bills has been filed in the Texas House and Senate that would prohibit smoking in most public places, including places of employment, restaurants, bars and seating areas at outdoor events.
Private residences, nursing homes, certain hotel rooms, tobacco shops, private clubs and the outdoor porches and patios of restaurants and bars are among the places that would be exempt from the law.
Local business owners oppose the bill and say the state should stay out of their decision to allow or prohibit smoking, but public health officials say secondhand smoke is dangerous and needs to be eliminated from public places.
The House version of the bill (HB 670) was taken up by the Public Health Committee on Wednesday, and the upper chamber’s version (SB 355) was discussed in the Senate Health and Human Services Committee on Tuesday.
Similar bills calling for a ban were proposed in 2009, but the measure did not pass before the end of the session.
State Rep. Susan King, R-Abilene, is a member of the House’s Public Health Committee and has signed on as one of 34 representatives who are authoring or co-authoring the statewide smoking ban bill.
Reached Wednesday between meetings, King said she supports the bill as a health care professional. King, a nurse, co-owns the Elm Place Ambulatory Surgical Center with her husband, Dr. Austin King.
As a matter of individual liberty, King said Texans will still have the right to smoke, but the places where they are allowed to light up will be restricted.
King said 11 people testified in favor of the bill on Wednesday and two testified against it. Several people filled out forms expressing opposition but did not testify before the committee.
The bill is still pending, but King predicted it will pass out of committee and be presented to the full House for consideration.
She said she expects stiff opposition from business owners who are worried that a ban would push patrons away.
In Buffalo Gap, Cindy Schranz, owner of the Bar-B-Que Barn, said she believes a statewide smoking ban would hurt her business.
Smoking has been permitted in the tap room since the restaurant opened in the late 1960s, but the dining room is smoke-free.
When Abilene passed a smoking ordinance in 2007, the Bar-B-Que Barn picked up customers who like to smoke while they sit over a cup of coffee or a bottle of beer, Schranz said. She said she fears a ban will push them away, especially because she doesn’t have an outdoor patio where they could smoke.
Schranz, a smoker, said she believes a ban would do little to entice smokers to quit. All but one of her employees smoke.
“I’d just sit in my car a lot more or go 20 feet from the door,” Schranz said.
Jerry Gibson, general manager of the Wes-T-Go Truck Stop in Tye, said he believes his business would be affected by a statewide smoking ban to some degree.
Patrons are still allowed to choose between smoking and nonsmoking sections in the truck stop’s restaurant.
Gibson said he couldn’t speak for his employees’ support or opposition to a statewide ban, but he said he hasn’t heard them complain about the atmosphere.
“What you find is most people who work in a place that has smoking, a lot of them smoke, so it does not bother them,” Gibson said.
Under the proposed law, business owners would be required to post “no smoking” signs at each entrance and to remove all ashtrays from areas that are declared smoke-free.
Supporters of the ban say it would protect employees from a harmful workplace environment.
“No one should have to choose between their health and a paycheck,” according to Smoke-Free Texas, a coalition of organizations backing the bill.
According to the coalition, 34 Texas cities and 45 percent of Texans are covered by comprehensive smoke-free workplace ordinances. Also, 29 states already are smoke-free and seven states are considering legislation that would outlaw smoking.
Just a handful of cities in the Big Country have smoking bans, and Abilene’s is the most stringent, according to a database of smoking ordinances maintained by the University of Texas Medical Branch.
The city of Abilene’s smoking ordinance outlaws smoking in most public places, but it’s too early to tell how the city’s current ordinance would be affected if a statewide ban passes, said Kelley Messer assistant city attorney.
If the ban passes as proposed, it would supersede any existing bans in Texas cities. However, municipalities would be allowed to enforce bans that are more stringent than the state’s ban.
By Sarah Kleiner Varble
Reporter News

Debate over statewide smoking ban in Kentucky

The Kentucky Legislature is looking at a bill that would establish a smoking ban across the state, impacting all public buildings. The Smoking banIndiana General Assembly also is considering a statewide smoking ban during its current session.
The proposed Kentucky bill, House Bill 193, would prohibit smoking in any indoor public places and establish a distance outside the doors where smoking would be allowed. Fines would be $100 for the first violation and $250 for every other violation. Fines could increase if violations become a persistent problem.
Democratic Rep. Susan Westrom of Lexington is sponsoring the bill, which was introduced Thursday. The bill was sent to the Health and Welfare committee the next day. The House is in recess until Feb. 1.
The bill has been introduced in the past and is expected to face more debate. Of the eight-member health committee, five representatives are co-authors of the bill, which suggests the bill will face little resistance getting out of committee.
To pass, the bill would have to go through a second and third reading, along with a vote by the full House. The readings would have to be authorized by Speaker of the House Greg Stumbo, D-Prestonburg, who is a co-sponsor of the bill. Given his support for the smoking ban, it is clear the bill will be given a reading and will receive a vote before the full House in the upcoming session. But Rep. Rick Rand, D-Bedford, has already made up his mind on the issue.
“I will be reluctant to vote for it at this time,” Rand said. “I think it’s not quite time for us to have a full-state ban.”
It’s an issue Rand said he would be open to discussing in future sessions. If the bill comes to a vote before the whole House, Rand said he would vote against it.
Smoking is currently allowed in most public buildings in Carroll and Trimble counties, excluding some buildings such as schools. Trimble County Judge-Executive Randy Stevens said in the eight years he has been at the Trimble County Courthouse, he has never seen anyone smoke inside, despite that it is legal to do so. There are spots in front of all the doors where cigarette butts can be left.
Stevens said he tries to stay out of the debate.
“I don’t believe it’s my place or the legislature’s place to tell (people) what they can and can’t do,” Stevens said.
If a smoking ban were put in place, it would have an influence on residents of Kentucky. Studies have shown that more than one- quarter of all adults in the state smoke cigarettes. A 2008 survey by the Kentucky Incentives for Prevention showed more than half of all seniors at Carroll County High School had tried cigarettes and 28 percent used them regularly.
The major issue in this debate is second-hand smoke and the rights of people who do not want to be around smoke. The Swedish National Board of Health and Welfare and Bloomberg Philanthropies recently studied second-hand smoke issues. They found that more than 40 percent of children and more than 30 percent of all non-smoking men and women breathe in second-hand smoke.
There are 600,000 people worldwide who die every year from second-hand smoke, which is about 1 percent of the world’s total deaths. There are about 5.1 million additional deaths from smoking itself.
According to the University of Kentucky HealthCare, Kentucky has the third-highest adult smoking rate in the country. It also has the highest number of deaths from smoking-related illnesses. Twenty-seven percent of pregnant women in Kentucky smoke during pregnancy, which is almost twice as high as the national average.
In Kentucky:
• 18 percent of homes with children have an adult who smokes
• 20 percent of homes with children have allowed smoking in the home in the past 30 days
• 46 percent of homes with children have at least one adult who thinks secondhand smoke is not a health risk
The area has had a long history of tobacco production. Old news reports from The Associated Press from the 1910s said this area produced around 1,700 pounds of tobacco for every acre of land and would be sold for 45 cents a pound.
In 1979, Kentucky ranked second among all states in the production on tobacco, second only to North Carolina. Tobacco production has seen a dramatic decline in the area since then.
Carroll County Judge-Executive Harold “Shorty” Tomlinson has considered a countywide smoking ban in the past, but has been hesitant because “tobacco and the tobacco industry have always been good to this part of the country.”
Though Tomlinson is a smoker and he often smokes in his office in the courthouse, he has no problem with the thought of a smoking ban. While he worked at General Butler State Resort Park, Tomlinson, said he banned smoking in the offices due to allergies of an employee. General Butler has since become entirely smoke-free.
Tomlinson said he has rarely heard any complaints about smoking indoors and residents don’t seem to mind, either. Mike Cutshaw, 62, of Carrollton, has been smoking since he was 16 and said he has no major health problems. He doesn’t like the idea of a smoking ban on public businesses.
“I just don’t agree with the way they’re forcing everyone to do something,” he said.
Cutshaw said he worked in chemical plants and would constantly breathe in harmful chemicals, but is irked that government doesn’t try to make any chemical plants safer.
“Compare the particles they’re putting in there and what they’re putting in their lungs with cigarettes. I guarantee it’s 10 times worse. But they never talk about that,” he said.
Pauline Poindexter, 82, of Carrollton, has never smoked, but she has been around it her whole life. Her father used to smoke and her husband smoked before he died. The only health problems she has are cholesterol-related. She said a ban doesn’t make much sense.
“I don’t think someone should be told they shouldn’t do something if it’s legal,” she said.
Contact your local Kentucky legislators
Below is the contact information for the local legislators from Carroll and Trimble counties. If you feel strongly about this issue, call them and voice your opinion.
Rep. Rick Rand, D-Bedford
702 Capitol Ave.
Annex Room 366B
Frankfort, KY 40601
Office: (502) 564-8100 ext. 619
Fax: (502) 564-6543
E-mail: rick.rand@lrc.ky.gov
Sen. Ernie Harris, R-Crestwood
702 Capitol Ave.
Annex Room 204
Frankfort, KY 40601
Office: (502) 564-8100 ext. 605
Fax: (502) 564-0776
E-mail: ernie.harris@lrc.ky.gov

Detroit may ban smoking in public housing

The world for Michigan’s smokers may be shrinking again. Already illegal to light up in public buildings, bars, restaurants and — by Detroit may ban smokingJuly 1 — on University of Michigan campuses, smoking bans are moving inside some public housing, too.
On Dec. 16, an administrator overseeing the Detroit Housing Commission will decide whether to ban smoking in its more than 4,000 public housing units — from multiple-dwelling high-rises to single-family homes.
Authorities elsewhere have found that it’s cheaper to clean and turn over units belonging to nonsmokers. But health concerns over secondhand smoke drove the decision, said Herticene Hardaway, general counsel for the commission.
“Especially if you live in a high-rise, if you have to live with people on top of you and beside you, and you have a neighbor who is going to smoke, you’re unfortunately going to catch some of that smoke,” she said.
Detroit is among the largest housing commissions in the U.S. to take up a smoking ban, but 49 other Michigan housing commissions have already passed such policies. Enforcement, authorities said, isn’t always easy; they rely on complaints and regular inspections of homes. The penalty for repeat scofflaws? Possible eviction.
Public housing looks to ban smoking in interest of public health
Essie Williams says she gets it: Smokers feel they have the right to do what they want in their own homes.
But when residents share air ducts, vents and entryways? Well, that’s different, said the 79-year-old resident of Sheridan Place, a Detroit public housing complex.
“Say you’ve burned your toast — I’m going to smell it. And if you’re smoking a cigarette, I smell it. And that’s secondhand smoke, too,” she said of the tobacco smoke. “Sure, it’s an argument (that) it’s your own home … but what am I supposed to do? That’s my air, too.”
No-smoking policies have cropped up in public housing across the country after the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced last year that such policies are not only legal, but “strongly encouraged.”
HUD noted the links between smoking and respiratory illness, heart disease and cancer, as well as the costs of smoking-related fires.
Michigan a trendsetter
Today, there are at least 225 housing authorities or commissions that have adopted policies across the U.S. — 49 in Michigan, said Jim Bergman of the Ann Arbor-based Smoke-Free Environments Law Project.
Eight more housing authorities in Michigan, including one in Lansing, are expected to enact bans in the coming months. “Michigan really is a leader in this,” said Bergman, an attorney.
The Detroit Housing Commission was listed as a troubled agency in 2005, which forced it to turn over local control to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The smoke-free proposal will be decided by Steven Meiss, HUD recovery administrator.
He will consider the recommendation from the Detroit commission’s executive director, Eugene Jones, who said in an interview last week that he supports a full ban in public housing.
Meiss previously approved a no-smoking ban in June, but authorities hadn’t given residents the required 30-day notice before the decision, said the commission’s general counsel, Hurticene Hardaway. That means it must be approved again.
The proposal in Detroit may be a catalyst for other housing facilities in the state.
“When you have one-third of the housing commissions (in Michigan) accepting some kind of policy, the others will do the same thing,” Bergman said.
Jim Schaafsma, a housing law attorney with the Michigan Poverty Law Program, which advocates for low-income residents, said the notion that a person’s “home is his castle” has not disappeared from the law, but the dangers of secondhand smoke are irrefutable.
“While I often advocate for the individual, the interests of the community outweighs the interest of the individual,” he said.
But the way Raymond Alfred, 57, and roommate Cynthia McCoy, 56, see it, that’s trampling on the freedom to make their own, informed decision in their home at Riverbend Towers, a Detroit public housing property. “I know the pros and cons of smoking. … Don’t treat me like a kid,” McCoy said.
Bans in other cities
Smoke-free policies vary among public housing commissions. Some ban smoking altogether in buildings, or limit smoking to areas outside. Some give smokers a few months to quit. Others — such as in the 61-unit Leo Paluch Senior Apartments in Allen Park — allow residents to continue smoking indoors until they transfer apartments or move out.
“If I’m an adult and I sign a lease … and I move in under those terms, then the landlord is changing the rules, that doesn’t seem fair,” said Andrew Hill, executive director.
The move toward a smoke-free facility in Allen Park was driven by finances. Fewer smokers led to lower cleaning bills and property insurance premiums, Hill said.
Resident Helen Schellang, 69, said management’s exceptions for residents who already smoked forged cooperation between residents and management and among the residents, themselves.
“They listen to us vigorously,” she said of the managers.
The Livonia Housing Commission, which like Allen Park passed its policy in 2006, also offered exceptions for residents who already smoke. It, too, will eventually be smoke-free, said executive director Jim Inglis. A few residents who allowed guests to smoke were given notices of eviction, but the tenants agreed to make sure it didn’t happen again and got another chance, Inglis said.
The policy irritated some newcomers who smoke, but everyone has come to accept the policy, said resident Josie Smith, 79, who said her husband, a chain-smoker, died of lung cancer.
“When you come in, you know the rules,” she said.
By ROBIN ERB
Free Press Medical Writer