Columbia (MO) Votes to Go Smoke-Free

Missouri, 10/10/06–  At 1:00am last night, after 4 1/2 hours of public testimony, the Columbia (Missouri) City Council voted in favor of smoke-free workplace legislation.  Beginning January 9, virtually all workplaces, including restaurants and bars, will be required to provide safe, clean indoor air.

Both the public testimony and the council’s debate centered on a key theme: When do public health concerns trump the rights of private business owners, and those of smokers?

In the same indoor air space, the right to breathe clean air and the right to pollute cannot coincide simultaneously.  Somebody’s right has to prevail.  In the end, Columbia decided that the right to breath clean indoor air was more important than the right to pollute.

Mayor Darwin Hindman cited “overwhelming evidence” that secondhand smoke is bad for people, and said it is smokers who must give some leeway. “Whose freedom should be limited? the Mayor asked.  “I think it should be the smoker’s freedom that should be limited.”

“This is not an effort to vilify smokers in any way,” said Dean Andersen, co-director of the Boone County Coalition for Tobacco Concerns. “This is a health issue, not a moral issue.”

Recounting data about the negative effects of secondhand smoke, Andersen argued that the council’s role was clear. “Protecting the health and safety of our community is a primary purpose of local government.”

“Secondhand smoke causes disease and premature death… It’s time for local government to do what they are supposed to do, protect the health and safety of their community,” Andersen said.

Class Action Lawsuit Certified Against Tobacco Cos.

New York, 9/26/06–  Yesterday, a federal court judge certified a class action lawsuit by smokers who claim that tobacco companies deceived them into believing that “light” cigarettes were safer than other cigarettes, when the companies in fact knew that this was not true.  Judge Jack B. Weinstein indicated that damages might total more than $100 billion.  Jury selection begins on January 22, 2007.

In arguing for class certification, plaintiffs’ attorney Michael D. Hausfeld held that tobacco companies marketed cigarettes as “light” and ” low tar” in order to make the brands seem healthier than other cigarettes and alleviate fears about the dangers of smoking.  “They understood that they were selling death,” he said. The question was “how to disguise it. … They put on ‘lights.”

Hausfeld told the judge that an analysis by plaintiffs’ expert witnesses concluded that more than 90 percent of smokers in the potential class purchased light cigarettes over the past three decades based on health concerns, as opposed to taste or other factors.  He argued the case should be certified as a class-action because cigarette manufacturers developed marketing messages regarding “light” cigarettes for the public, not for individual smokers.

Cigarette Smoke Tied to Diabetes Risk

British Medical Journal

Smokers and people exposed to secondhand smoke are at elevated risk of developing glucose intolerance, which can lead to diabetes.

Researchers at the Birmingham Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Alabama estimated the risk of developing glucose intolerance as 22 percent for smokers, 17 percent for nonsmokers exposed to secondhand smoke, and 12 percent among nonsmokers not exposed to secondhand smoke. Former smokers had a 14-percent risk.

The study involved more than 4000 men and women. The researchers said the secondhand-smoke risk for diabetes was a new finding.

Bloomberg gives $125 million to advance smokefree causes

Thank You Michael Bloomberg

New York City Mayor and philanthropist Michael Bloomberg announced yesterday that he is giving $125 million to advance smokefree causes.  Mayor Bloomberg is an incredible person with a long history of promoting public health.

“I’ve never met anyone who understands an issue more quickly and takes action more thoughtfully,” says Joe Cherner, president of SmokeFree Educational Services, Inc.

Hopefully some of the money will go toward fighting for smokefree ballot initiatives in areas where elected officials are still more concerned with tobacco interests than health.  RJ Reynolds Tobacco Company has put up $40 million to combat November smokefree ballot initiatives in Ohio and Arizona.

Arlington (TX) Votes 8-1 for Smoke-free Restaurant Law

Texas, 10/17/06–  On Tuesday, the Arlington (TX) City Council voted 8-1 to become the sixteenth city in Texas to enact smoke-free restaurant legislation, joining Austin, Dallas, El Paso, Corpus Christie, Round Rock, Laredo, Beaumont, and others.

Ten Texas cities, including Austin and El Paso, also require bars to be smoke-free.  Houston and Fort Worth are considering similar legislation and are expected to vote shortly.

Arizona Health Groups Go Directly to the Voters

After tiring of the Arizona legislature’s refusal to pass smoke-free workplace legislation, Arizona health groups are taking their case directly to the voters.  On Friday, the Arizona Secretary of State’s Office approved petitions clearing the way for a ballot initiative in November.  The initiative would provide virtually all Arizona workers with a safe, healthy, smoke-free workplace.

“This was a great day,” said Bill Pfeifer, Smoke-Free Arizona chairman and president and chief executive of the American Lung Association of Arizona. “Now, it’s get the vote out!”

Smoke-Free Arizona will be fighting a competing proposal backed by RJ Reynolds tobacco company.  That proposal, misleadingly called the Arizona Non-Smoker Protection Act, would actually allow smoking in many locations and strike down all local smoke-free ordinances that are more restrictive than the state standard.

If your state legislature still hasn’t passed smoke-free workplace legislation, maybe it’s time for your state’s health groups to do like Arizona and take the issue to the voters.  Contact your local American Cancer Society, American Lung Association, or American Heart Association.

Arizona and Ohio Smokefree Ballot Initiatives

This November, voters in Arizona and Ohio will be voting on smokefree workplace legislation.  Unfortunately, tobacco interests have intentionally added similar sounding but drastically different initiatives to the ballot in each state.  RJ Reynolds has already committed $40 million to pass the misleading, fake, weak, proposals.

Here’s a more precise explanation…

ARIZONA:  YES on 201; NO on 206

In Arizona, voters will cast their ballots on Proposition 201 (sponsored by health groups) and Proposition 206 (sponsored by tobacco interests).  Proposition 201 (called the Smoke-Free Arizona Act) would provide virtually all workers with a safe, healthy, smokefree workplace.  Proposition 206 (called the Arizona Non-Smoker Protection Act) would allow smoking in many locations and preempt localities from passing stronger legislation.  If voters pass both Proposition 201 AND Proposition 206, the one with the most votes will become law.

OHIO:  YES on Issue 5; NO on Issue 4

In Ohio, voters will cast their ballots on Issue 5 (sponsored by health groups) and Issue 4 (sponsored by tobacco interests.  Issue 5 (called SmokeFREE Ohio) would provide virtually all workers with a safe, healthy, smokefree workplace.  Issue 4 (called SmokeLESS Ohio) would allow smoking in many locations and preempt localities from passing stronger legislation.  If voters pass both Issue 5 and Issue 4, the weak Issue 4 becomes law because it is actually a constitutional amendment.  Therefore, it is very important that Ohioans vote NO on Issue 4.

Americans prefer restaurants, bars, and clubs to be smoke-free

Since my wife Nina and I started publishing Zagat Survey guides in 1979, we’ve found that people often have widely differing points of view — sometimes even about the same dish at the same restaurant on the same night. There are very few issues of taste about which people of all ages, genders, and geographic regions can agree.

That’s why it catches our attention when an issue garners the overwhelming support of the public. And it is clear from our surveys that the vast majority of Americans prefer their restaurants, bars, and clubs to be smoke-free.

In the 27 years we’ve been publishing our surveys, we’ve come to know the in-depth preferences of consumers when it comes to dining, nightlife, travel and leisure activities. Our local surveys are based on the responses of thousands of people. They are good barometers of public opinion and hospitality industry trends.

We recently surveyed more than 115,000 people for our 2006 America’s Top Restaurants guide, and found that 89 percent of all Americans think smoking should be totally banned in restaurants.

Every time the issue comes up, opponents of smoke-free laws argue that these laws would devastate small businesses. The opposite is true. In three years as the chairman of NYC & Company, the official marketing, promotion and tourism arm of New York City, I watched New York transition into a smoke-free city and witnessed the positive impact the law had on our restaurants and nightlife. Our 2004 survey found that 96 percent of New Yorkers were eating out as much — or more — after the law took effect. Moreover, studies showed that business receipts and employment increased for restaurants and bars, the number of liquor licenses increased and virtually all establishments were complying with the law.

But the dollars and cents case only supports the most important incentive for passing a smoke-free law — the well-documented health benefits. Exposure to secondhand smoke leads to lung cancer, heart disease and other serious illnesses.

Editorial by Tim Zagat (Founder of Zagat Survey)

Lung Cancer kills more people worldwide than any other cancer

This high mortality rate is due to late diagnosis in too many cases.

Over 39,000 people are diagnosed with the disease in the UK each year, making it the second most common cancer.

However, 10 per cent of this number have never smoked.

Each year in the UK 33,500 people die from lung cancer – making it the UK’s biggest killer disease

The cases of lung cancer in men in the UK have dropped but, as more women are taking up the habit, the numb

er of women developing the disease has risen.

The most common form of lung cancer among women and non-smokers is adenocarcinoma.

This tends to hit people who were former, light smokers – i.e. who only smoked a couple a day.

Why does it also develop in non-smokers?  Is it the “passive smoking” syndrome of which Roy Castle was diagnosed?

As in all cancers, early detection is vital but all to often does not happen because people are unaware of the symptoms.

It is suggested that you visit the GP if you have any of the following symptoms:

 

  • A cough that doesn’t go away after two or three weeks
  • Worsening or change to long standing coughRepeated chest infections
  • Coughing up blood
  • Unexplained persistent breathlessness
  • Unexplained persistent tiredness
  • Unexplained persistent weight loss
  • Persistent chest and/or shoulder pain

An important caveat – these symptoms can be caused by illnesses other than cancer but a visit to your GP is essential.

 

Could cute kids be more effective than graphic cigarette packs?

Smokers in Canada will notice their cigarette packages have gotten a bit of a gruesome makeover as new, mandatory labeling (covering three-quarters of the cigarette pack) takes effect next week.

The new packs will feature graphic images such as cancerous mouths and an emaciated anti-smoking activist Barb Tarbox, dying of lung cancer.

Despite new statistics revealing that fewer Canadians are smoking since the first health warning labels were introduced in 1989, some are skeptical that these images are in fact effective. “Does anyone seriously believe that Canadians don’t already know the risk of smoking?” Imperial Tobacco Canada’s vice-president of corporate affairs asked in a statement released by the company in April. “Increasing the size of the warning from 50 to 75 percent will not lead to any measurable change to public awareness.”

 

What do you think?

Could a guilt trip from a cute child be more effective than graphic cigarette labels?

Could the desire to set a good example for and protect children from smoking be a more effective way to quit the habit?

Which approach do you think is more effective?