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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.

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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."'

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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.

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