Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Smoking In Several Newly Smoke-Free Parks

Nate Freeman, the Observer nightlife reporter who gave us the trend story about how young New Yorkers aren't having sex anymore, was sent out by the paper to see how the city was enforcing the new smoking cigarettes ban in public plazas and parks. Turns out, the cops were pretty nice and low-key about it whenever he lit up, even though Freeman did his best to be the exact opposite.

"Excuse me, officer," we said, Marlboro blazing between our fingers. "How is the ban on smoking cigarettes in the park going so far?" She stared at the stick burning in our hand.
"It's going well because when we ask people to put out their cigarettes, they do," she said, without asking us to do just that.
"People are being cooperative, then?" we asked.
"Most people, but you're smoking cigarettes right in front of me."

"Yes, I am," The Observer replied. "Would you like me to put it out?"
"I would really suggest you do."
"So, are you telling me to put it out?"
"You do understand the rules, correct?"
"Yes," The Observer said, dragging until only the filter remained and then flicking the tar-stained bit of cotton and stale cigarettes leaf into a bush. "I understand."

Ballsy stuff, eh? Of course, this trick has been played before, like when Radar sent Neel Shah to openly snort cocaine in a bunch of restaurants and bars. But smoking cigarettes cigarettes outdoors and being needlessly rude to friendly police officers — that's pretty badass, too.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Coalition Backdown On Cigarettes Leaves Issue With Courts

THE Coalition has bowed to pressure and will support the plain packaging of cigarettes.

The decision, which means every MP and senator except Bob Katter now supports the measure, puts beyond doubt the passage of the legislation, a world first, and sets the scene for a legal battle between Big Tobacco and the federal government.

The Coalition's decision came after a robust discussion in the party room yesterday in which 16 MPs spoke for and against.

Originally Mr Abbott said the Coalition would not adopt a policy position until it saw the final legislation, which the government was planning to release next month.

But public support was strong and the Coalition was finding itself in an increasingly indefensible position. The government also accused the Coalition of being beholden to Big Tobacco, as the Liberals and Nationals still accepted donations from cigarettes companies.

The legislation was set to pass anyway because the government had the numbers in both houses.

On Monday the shadow cabinet decided the Coalition should cut its losses.

The Nationals opposed the plain green packets with graphic health warnings, saying it infringed the intellectual property rights of tobacco companies. Several Liberals held the same view. As a face-saving measure, the Coalition will seek to amend the legislation by having the new larger graphic health warnings but retaining some branding.

Mr Abbott said if this amendment failed - which it will - the Coalition would wave the original legislation through.

Inside the party room, some MPs such as the NSW Liberal Alex Hawke argued against plain packaging, saying it was another step towards the ''nanny state''.

At the other end of the spectrum, the WA Liberal MP and medical doctor, Mal Washer, said it was a health matter and warned the party ''we are just going to bleed on this all the way to July''.

Others, such as South Australian senators Simon Birmingham and Cory Bernardi, argued the middle ground. They said by at least trying to amend the legislation to protect branding rights, the Coalition would be vindicated should the government lose the court case.

Because the plain packets would be a world first, the government believes other nations will follow should Australia succeed.

The Coalition decision removes an irritant for Mr Abbott, which has contributed to recent tensions in his ranks.

He pointedly told yesterday's meeting that the party was at its best when focusing on the government and its ''failures''.

''When we talk about ourselves, we do less well,'' he said.

Yesterday the Health Minister, Nicola Roxon, was presented by the World Health Organisation with an award for her ''unwavering leadership'' in promoting plain packaging. The WHO's regional director, Shin Young-soo, said her action ''will impact on tobacco control policies in many, many other countries''.

The Foreign Minister, Kevin Rudd, said he had rejected appeals from members of the US Congress to drop the plain-package plan.

''We will defend our position on these matters robustly,'' he said.

Ms Roxon welcomed Mr Abbott's decision and urged him to go further and reject tobacco company donations.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Quitting Is Winning

THE word quitting has long been tagged as a term used negatively. Be it in competitions; in sports, in business deals—in just about every aspect of everyday existence—quitting is closely associated with losing.

But as we celebrate World Non-Tobacco day, we have to look at the action of quitting albeit in another totally different light indeed—and with great respect.

The people who put out the light for good.

We call them the smoking cigarettes quitters. Sure these types of people may come few and far between. But surely they exist. And they make up of all classes of profile you can possibly think of.

The yuppie who’s under great stress at work, the student fresh off from high school, or the mom’s who’s picked up the habit early on in life. Whatever their past, they surely look forward to a smoke-free and hopefully, a healthier, longer future in store for them.

“Smoking is responsible for several diseases, such as cancer, long-term (chronic) respiratory diseases, and heart disease, as well as premature death. Over 440,000 people in the USA and 100,000 in the UK die because of smoking cigarettes each year. According the US CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), $92 billion is lost each year from lost productivity resulting from smoking cigarettes-related deaths,” stated a story from medicalnewstoday.com.

So the world is divided into two, where the first half stands strong in its beliefs and has viewed cigarette smoking cigarettes as some sort of slow suicide that should be condemned. While the other half, simply claim that the cigarette is some temporary stress-relief stick.

Although the choices individuals make must be respected, the facts and consequences should at least be raised out in the open, for everyone to have a fair basis for their actions and could better lead to them making a more informed decision.

But according to file statistics provided by the World Health Organization with regards to majority of smokers in the country, “most now wish they did not smoke cigarettes and about two-thirds have tried to give up.”

Such is the case for Brian Sacro, a recording engineer and producer who spent almost half his life smoking cigarettes. “I started back when I was in college,” he recalls.

“I guess it looked cool with my friends so I started doing it too. Then I became a heavy smoker, and the least number of cigarettes I would smoke cigarettes would be a one pack a day—the least.”

Brian would be approaching his first-year of being nicotine-free next month. He shares more about his success in quitting.

“It’s been a long while since I wanted to quit. But it was just pretty hard. Besides the addiction, it was not getting used to it because smoking cigarettes has become a routine in my life. For one, my meals don’t feel complete if I don’t smoke cigarettes after.”

But eventually, he’s found the will to do so. He started off limiting himself to a pack a day, then after a week, 10 sticks a day, then the number of cheap smokes would gradually decrease the following weeks, until finally, the only smoke cigarettes he’d take would be that, that comes off of a hot cup of brewed coffee.

Brian would just be one of a thousand more out there with their true stories that justify quitting, in one of these rare occasions, as a noble deed. So smokers out there might want to explore the option of stopping.

Like they say: “Quit while you’re still ahead.”

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Plainly, The Public Backs Smokes Plan

HEALTH campaigners say most Australians support plain packaging for cigarettes, despite efforts by the powerful cigarettes industry to mobilise public and political opposition against the Gillard government plan.

With public consultation on the landmark bill due to close next week, a Newspoll survey has revealed 59 per cent of respondents support the proposal, while 24 per cent remain opposed.

With 17 per cent of respondents undecided, Cancer Council Victoria will launch a national campaign today in a bid to discredit claims by cigarette manufacturers that plain packaging will lead to a surge in counterfeit tobacco. British America Tobacco will return fire in a fresh round of advertisements with the tagline ''when everything's the same, how do you spot the fake?''

The row erupted as the International Chamber of Commerce slammed the plain packaging push. Secretary-general Jean-Guy Carrier has written to Trade Minister Craig Emerson arguing that the plan will set a dangerous precedent and could clash with international laws protecting trademarks and intellectual property. An ICC statement said restricting product branding meant customers were not able to make informed choices. ''Plain packaging makes it easier for… counterfeiters, exposing consumers to products with unknown and potentially dangerous ingredients.''

Cancer Council chief executive Todd Harper accused the tobacco industry of deliberately misleading the public. ''These are the same people that told us that nicotine was not addictive. This is such an important issue for the future of their industry that we can expect more hysterical and unfounded claims.'' The proposed legislation would still allow for the brand name to appear in small print on cigarette packs.

British American Tobacco spokeswoman Louise Warburton claimed public support for plain packaging had slumped by 13 per cent since April. ''We don't think the public would support millions of dollars being spent on legal fees by the government and possibly billions of dollars being spent on compensation to the tobacco industry if plain packaging goes ahead,'' she said. Anne Jones, chief executive of Action on Smoking and Health, said the global tobacco industry was aggressively fighting Australia's proposed plain packaging laws because the legislation would have a domino effect.

Ms Jones said a global tobacco treaty signed in 2005 required signatories to do all they could to reduce tobacco harm. ''When Australia gets plain packaging you've got 170 other countries out there watching and wanting to catch up or go ahead of what we're doing. The industry's very fearful of that because they're a global industry,'' she said.

US Congressman Donald Manzullo has warned Mr Emerson plain packaging could breach international trade laws.

Quit's Fiona Sharkie urged federal MPs to ignore attempts by international lobbyists to derail the reforms.

Friday, May 27, 2011

New Warnings On Cigarettes Packs From December 1

The Centre has notified the new pictorial warnings for being printed on packages of smoking cigarettes and chewable cigarettes products.

The notification, which was issued on Friday and which will take effect from December 1 this year, provides for strong pictorial warnings for smoking cigarettes (cigarettes, bidis, and cigars) and smokeless or chewable forms of tobacco products, including gutka.

A set of four gory pictures, depicting lung and mouth cancer, will be rotated every two years. For cheap cigarettes and ‘bidis,' the pictures show blackened lungs and cancer-affected bloodied mouth, while for smokeless tobacco, pictures of bloodied mouth and gums have been selected.

The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare amended the Cigarettes and other Tobacco Products (Packaging and Labelling) Rules, 2008 — issued under the Cigarettes and other Tobacco Products (Prohibition of Advertisement and Regulation of Trade and Commerce, Production, Supply and Distribution) Act, 2003 (34 of 2003) — to make pictorial warnings mandatory on packages of non-smoking cigarettes forms of tobacco.

The government enacted the comprehensive legislation to combat the menace of tobacco. The 2003 Act provides for a ban on smoking cigarettes in public places and sale of tobacco products to and by minors, prohibition of sale of tobacco products within 100 yards of educational institutions and a ban on all advertisements of tobacco products. It also provides for pictorial health warnings on tobacco product packages.

After a long legal battle, the Rules relating to Section 7 of Act, which mandates pictorial warnings, were notified in 2008 and came into effect on May 31, 2009. As India has ratified the World Health Organisation's Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), the government is committed to implementing its guidelines and provisions. Article 11 of the FCTC recommends pictorial warnings as an effective strategy to cut down on the demand for tobacco. The feedback from different sectors indicated that the existing warnings were not strong and effective enough to influence tobacco users to kick the habit. As the use of smokeless tobacco is high in the country and the consumption is more among the lower socio-economic class with low levels of literacy, it is hoped that strong pictorial warnings will definitely dissuade the users from consuming these products.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Health Board Adopts Smoke-free Resolution In Wyoming County

The campaign to end smoking cigarettes in Casper area businesses earned an endorsement Wednesday from the Natrona County Board of Health.

The board unanimously voted to adopt a resolution urging local employers to prohibit smoking cigarettes in their businesses because of the health problems associated with secondhand smoke. The resolution further asks state and local officials to consider passing ordinances that “control exposure to second-hand smoke” in all businesses and indoor public spaces.

Board members will also send letters to Natrona County legislators and mayors urging action on the issue.

The resolution has no power to force business owners to prohibit smoking cigarettes. The health board last year declined to pursue a county-wide workplace smoking cigarettes ban amid concern that it lacked the authority to adopt such a measure.

But the resolution does give Smokefree Natrona County, the coalition advocating for the regulations, more clout when it takes its campaign to the municipal governments of Casper, Mills and Evansville later this year, group member Brandon Daigle explained after Wednesday’s vote.

“We have a governing body that has recognized that this is a health issue, which is first and foremost what our campaign has been about,” he said. “It is a health issue to protect the workers.”

The resolution focuses on the 2010 U.S. Surgeon General’s report on cigarettes smoke, which concluded that even limited exposure can cause immediate damage to the body and trigger heart attacks. The report also found that secondhand smoke cigarettes damages DNA in ways that can ultimately lead to cancer.

“We are trying to protect as many citizens as possible,” Daigle said. “It would be great if businesses [prohibit smoking cigarettes] on their own. We recognize that is not a reality, so we are hoping to pass the regulation.”

After the vote, health board member Peter Ashbaugh said the resolution was more important than people might think.

“It is a step forward for Smokefree Natrona County to launch their campaign,” he said.

No one at Wednesday’s meeting spoke in opposition to the resolution. Critics of a workplace smoking cigarettes ban have argued business owners should decide for themselves whether to allow smoking cigarettes. They also say customers who don’t like cheap cigarettes can simply avoid restaurants and bars that allow smoking cigarettes.

A handful of Wyoming cities, including Cheyenne and Laramie, have enacted public smoking cigarettes.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Ending Ads Aimed At Teens

For Tech Valley High School senior James Hazzard, the long list of cigarette ingredients with complicated names is a good way to scare students.

"Would you know that chocolate is in a cigarette?" said the Sharon Springs resident who volunteers with Reality Check of New York State, which aims to force cigarettes companies to quit targeting young people. The organization is funded by the Department of Health.

Hazzard said gas stations are a direct route for reaching kids. When they buy drinks, chips, ice cream or gum, he said, they see advertisements and tobacco displays with bright colors and cool logos and walls of discount cigarettes and smokeless tobacco with many different brands from which to choose.

"An established smoker doesn't notice the advertisements, but a child sees them and becomes intrigued," he said. He plans to post online a video he recently completed showing what the average student sees when walking past convenience stores every day.

In fulfilling his high school's community service requirement, Hazzard logged more than 600 hours of work with Reality Check since freshman year. This fall he'll enroll at Johnson and Wales University in North Miami where he'll study hospitality administration.

Hazzard has focused on banning smoking cigarettes in public parks and getting movies to stop showing characters who smoke. If they don't, he said, the films should lose their G, PG and PG-13 ratings, he said, noting that NBC and Universal Studios already enforce the more restrictive R rating.

Hazzard takes his message to schools to deglamorize tobacco. He'll speak at Watervliet High School for World No Smoke Day on Tuesday, May 31.

Recently students in Schoharie County heard from Rick Stoddard, who travels around the nation telling his personal story.

"Rick talks to children about his family, how they dealt with his wife's cancer," Hazzard said. "A lot of kids pay attention to that and become scared."

He said Reality Check doesn't pressure teens about using tobacco.

"It's their choice," he said. However, if they say they want to quit and ask for support, volunteers will put them in touch with the state hot line and give them support as they go through the process of kicking the nicotine habit.

Chelsea Diana, who is majoring in journalism at Boston University, is a Times Union summer intern.

Want to quit?

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Smokers Daring Bloomberg To Ticket Them Under Park Ban

Mayor Bloomberg's Smoke Free Air Act goes into effect on Monday, and shockingly, people physically dependent on a substance that is more addictive than heroin have said that they will probably ignore the law that bans smoking cigarettes in public parks, beaches, the concretewalk, and the Brooklyn Heights promenade. "It's so unfair because we're paying $12 to $13 a pack for cheap cigarettes and now there's nowhere to smoke cigarettes them…but I'll take the risk and still smoke cigarettes in public," one man told the Brooklyn Paper. Another suggested: "Should we outlaw cabs, buses, and everything else that admits exhausts and fills our lungs with crap?" Hey, that's not a bad idea.

The act comes across as the last straw for smokers and the city's civil libertarians, and in a way portrays those who are sitting outside near those who are using a legal product as overly helpless: "you always have the choice to walk away from a smoker," one Downtown smoker points out. The New York Times recently ran a piece by a Boston University scientist and longtime smoking cigarettes opponent who called the ban "pointless" and said that it "may actually increase exposure by creating smoke-filled areas near park entrances that cannot be avoided." Plus, the NYPD won't even enforce the ban: that will be left up to Parks Department employees.

Luckily for those who still choose to look really cool and smell terrible, state parks are exempted from the ban because of Freedom, so you'll still be able to light up at the East River State Park and the Brooklyn Bridge Park. Nothing pairs better with that view of Manhattan than a cool, Carolina smoke.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Lawmakers Try To Plug Loophole Allowing Hookah Lounges

Al Narah, Eugene's newest hookah lounge, may have opened in the nick of time.

If Oregon lawmakers pass House Bill 2726, new hookah bars would be banned from opening, but the 62 existing lounges statewide plus any established before July would be grandfathered in.

"We won't have to worry about the law even if it passed," Al Narah manager Jesse Lascano said as smoke cigarettes billowed out from the corner of his mouth.

Hookah bars are shops where customers indulge in smoking cigarettes varied cigarettes products using the tall water pipes.

The bill, which has cleared the Oregon House of Representatives, would tighten a loophole in Oregon's Smokefree Workplace Law, which allows people in smoke cigarettes shops to sample the tobacco.

Under the proposed changes, hookah lounges and smoke cigarettes shops wouldn't be allowed to provide seating for more than four people, essentially making it impossible for new hookah lounges to be created.

Outside of his shop at 1530 Willamette St., Lascano inhaled tobacco from a blue hookah, a tall water pipe complete with valves and hoses.

"It's really a fun, laid back sort of thing," Lascano said.

Since it officially started serving smokers three weeks ago, the hookah lounge has become popular among some, including University of Oregon student Alysah Dahlstrom.

"This is a great place to come and relax," Dahlstrom said. "Last night, a friend and I came here and worked on our chemistry homework. It's a lot more comfortable than the library."

But not everyone has welcomed Al Narah and its tobacco fumes to the neighborhood.

"In Eugene, we have people who understand hookah, but there are always a few who don't get what we're doing," Lascano said.

Eve Terran is one such resident. In a letter to The Register-Guard, Terran described an "assault of smoke cigarettes and unpleasant, toxic smells" as she walked by the shop. Terran said she's disappointed that the city hasn't worked harder to protect the health of its citizens.

"There has been a violation of our protections, and I ask that the city and community step up and correct this," Terran wrote.

But Eugene under its current ordinances doesn't have the power to prohibit Al Narah, or Eugene's other hookah lounge, Mirage, at 2164 W. Seventh Ave., from opening.

The loophole in Oregon's Smokefree Workplace Law allows hookah lounges. In 2009, the law was amended to prohibit indoor smoking cigarettes in nearly all workplaces, except for smoke cigarettes shops and cigar bars; hookah bars are considered smoke cigarettes shops.

The state defines smoke cigarettes shops as free-standing businesses that generate 75 percent or more of their revenue from selling tobacco, and that don't sell alcohol or lottery tickets.

The legal process for Al Narah to become a smoke cigarettes shop took months, but the certification was essential if Al Narah wanted to establish itself as a smoking cigarettes lounge.

"We were losing money for months when we didn't have our smoke cigarettes shop license," Lascano said. "You can't make enough money really just selling the stuff. People need a place to enjoy it."

When it was conceived, the law wasn't meant to provide places for recreational smoking cigarettes. It was intended to allow customers to sample expensive cigars or tobacco products before they splurged.

Lawmakers apparently didn't anticipate the loophole being used to justify the creation of hookah lounges.

"Hookah lounges weren't sweeping the nation like they are now when the law was drafted," said Stephanie Young-Peterson, Lane County Public Health Department tobacco prevention coordinator. "Most people hadn't even heard of such a thing."

Young-Peterson said hookah smoke cigarettes can be even more harmful than cigarette smoke. "Smoking hookah for an hour is the equivalent to smoking cigarettes 100 discount cigarettes in a day," she said.

The city of Eugene had planned on proposing a work session to possibly tighten up the city ordinance and make it tougher for hookah lounges to open up. But Rachelle Nicholas, the city's code enforcement supervisor, said such discussions have been postponed until after the Legislature concludes any action it might take.

"There's no reason to do the same thing at the city level if the state is already in the process of closing the loophole," she said.

In the meantime, area businesses such as Willamette Artisans Jewelry and Designs, a neighbor of Al Narah, seem to accept the arrival of a hookah shop next door.

"My only concern was that it might attract unsavory characters to the area," owner Tanya Gunter said. "But hey, we're a business, they're a legal business, and as far as I'm concerned they have every right to be there."

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Smoking Ban Taking Hold In Seaside Park

A new law kicks in Seaside Park this summer that could have smokers paying a price.

Seaside is enforcing a law where lighting up at public recreation areas may lead to a fine and even community service.

As of this season, every corner of Seaside Park's one and a half mile oceanfront, including the boardwalk, will be a no smoking cigarettes zone.

There is no need for smokers to even look for a smoking cigarettes section in Seaside because the restriction covers everything.
Livia Mihalyi is one Seaside resident who is happy with the new law.

"We absolutely love it. It's so many times you try to sit away, the smoke cigarettes comes and you can smell it," Mihalyi said.

The law is so close to going into effect that the signs are already going up at the borough's ballparks and marinas. That's right - no smoking cigarettes at those places either.

The law was passed in Seaside for two main reasons. Seaside Park Administrator Robert Martucci feels it is partly because of the environment.

"Borough leaders say they're taking this barrier island into clean and green mode, encouraging homeowners and businesses to look into green energy like solar panels and wind turbines, electric cars and so on. It's all part of a big vision," Martucci said.

Seaside wants to present a clean and green environment. Cigarette butts choking up the boardwalk and beaches threaten that goal.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

One Air Alliance Helps Businesses In Springfield Prepare For Smoking Ban

Nearly all businesses and public spaces in Springfield will be smoke cigarettes free by June 11, and there's a lot of work to be done to clear the air.

Managers at Trolley's restaurant were training workers on Tuesday for a smoke cigarettes free environment.

"We have been just working with them on how to handle that situation," said Trolley's owner, Ryan McDonald. "When somebody does light up a cigarette, it's not to throw them out the door, it's to say, 'Hey we have gone none-smoking cigarettes.'"

One Air Alliance received a $70,000 grant from the Missouri Foundation for Health. The money will go towards making a smoke-free city.

One Air Alliance ordered hundreds of no-smoking cigarettes stickers for businesses. All businesses will be required to have similar stickers at the front doors. One Air Alliance is also handing out smaller stickers that will go on company cars.

Businesses can order or pickup stickers. One Air Alliance will host seminars to prepare local businesses to go smoke cigarettes free.

Friday, May 20, 2011

MSU Leaders Vote To Make Campus Cigarettes-free

Once Montana State University had smoking cigarettes lounges, professors smoked in class and U.S. Tobacco not only sponsored the annual college rodeo, but handed out free chewing cigarettes samples to spectators at the Fieldhouse.

Over the last generation, tobacco has been increasingly restricted, and on Wednesday, campus leaders on MSU's University Council took a historic vote, unanimously endorsing the idea of making the Bozeman campus tobacco-free.

MSU President Waded Cruzado praised as "great leaders" the students who brought the proposal to the deans, department heads, employee representatives and vice presidents who serve on the University Council.

The student-backed proposal won't take effect immediately. Smokers will still be able to light up outside of campus buildings for the time being.

The plan is to draft a new tobacco-free policy over the summer and approve it this fall, said Amanda Diehl, former student vice president. Then the campus would spend a year educating students and employees before it takes effect.

"It feels amazing to have the unanimous support of this body," Eric Fisher, former student body president, said after the vote. "It's the biggest effect we could have by changing one thing."

"It's a good day for MSU," said Joey Steffens, Associated Students of MSU vice president. "We're moving forward, creating a safer environment, a cleaner environment."

Students said that they envision that MSU wouldn't hire tobacco police. Rather, enforcement would occur by making it socially unacceptable and "the power of the norm," Steffens said.

The students started working on a tobacco ban more than two years ago. It was blocked in the ASMSU Senate when opponents argued that as a matter of individual liberty, students should have the right to make their own decisions about tobacco.

The turning point came this year, when the Student Senate put the issue on the ballot and MSU students voted 61 percent in favor the tobacco-free idea, surprising even supporters with the lopsided endorsement.

Since then, students have taken the proposal to the Faculty Senate, Staff Senate and Professional Council, where it met little resistance, Fisher said.

Nancy Filbin, representing professional employees, said about 800 people have responded to an opinion survey so far, and about 72 percent are in favor of the tobacco ban.

Marvin Lansverk, Faculty Senate chair, said the faculty is "very much in favor" of the ban.

MSU Provost Martha Potvin said when the University of North Dakota imposed a tobacco ban, some people would still smoke cigarettes in their cars, arguing it was private property. It was also tough, she said, for deans to walk up to somebody smoking cigarettes behind a corner to enforce the ban.

Student Cory Wood, co-chair of the Student Health Advisory Committee, stressed that a tobacco ban would help save lives. He said about a quarter of MSU's tobacco users got started at college and a similar number increased their use at college. A tobacco ban would encourage people to quit rather than start using it, and it would benefit people with asthma and allergies who are susceptible to second-hand smoke, he said.

Based on Centers for Disease Control estimates, between a third and a half of smokers will die from their addiction, Wood said that could mean 700 to 1,100 current students would die prematurely.

MSU will join five campuses in Montana and about 270 nationwide when it goes tobacco-free, Steffens said.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Spam Email Promotes E-cigarettes To Children

Out-of-state advertisers flooded a Cedar Hills email service for children with thousands of messages promoting smoking cigarettes, according to a multimillion dollar lawsuit filed in federal court.

Zoobuh, which promotes itself as providing safe email for kids, claims an Arizona company named Smoke Freely spammed its servers with at least 16,188 emails since January touting its electronic or e-cigarettes. The lawsuit seeks a permanent injunction to stop the messages.

The company contends the emails violate the federal CAN-SPAM Act because they contain misleading or false information in the subject line. In addition, the messages failed to include a conspicuous notice that they are advertisements and a clear opt-out link from receiving them in the future, according to the suit filed in U.S. District Court last Friday.

Zoobuh seeks $225 per violation of six sections of federal law and asks for those damages to be tripled, bringing the amount sought to nearly $11 million.

In the lawsuit, Zoobuh says the emails caused it to upgrade its server capacity, buy spam-filtering software and experience server crashes. The company, which states that nearly all of its users are under age 18, also has had to deal with complaints and lost customers, the suit says.

Zoobuh alleges Smoke Freely, which sells a brand of e- cigarette called Prado, hired several marketing firms to pitch its products, all of which are named in the suit.

Prado e-cigarettes are sold as a smokeless, battery- powered alternative to traditional cigarettes, not as a smoking cigarettes cessation device. The e-cigs don't contain cigarettes but do contain nicotine. The company warns potential users they must be of legal smoking cigarettes age and that the products are not intended for children.

In 2010, the Utah Legislature made it a misdemeanor to provide e-cigarettes to anyone under age 19. It also made it illegal for those 18 and under to buy or possess them.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Ban Smoking In Public

Making Durham a healthier place by limiting people's exposure to secondhand smoke cigarettes is a top reason the Durham County Health Department is proposing to ban smoking cigarettes in many outdoor, public places.

The Durham County Board of Health recently approved the proposed smoking cigarettes ban "because of what we now know about cigarette smoke," Gayle Harris, director of the Durham County Health Department, said.

"There are over 7,000 chemicals in cigarette smoke, and hundreds of those are hazardous, and probably close to 70 are known to cause cancer," Harris said.

The health department is accepting public comment on the proposal through June 15. The results will be presented to the Durham County Board of Commissioners, which will be asked to adopt the rule as an amendment to Durham's existing smoke-free ordinance.

The amendment would prohibit smoking cigarettes indoors and outdoors at:

- All city and county property.

- City park system athletic fields and playgrounds.

- City and county bus stops.

- The Durham bus station downtown.

- Any sidewalk that is owned, leased or occupied by the city or county and abuts city or county grounds or hospital grounds.

The proposal goes well beyond Durham and state ordinances that currently prohibit smoking cigarettes in many retail businesses but don't target outdoor locations.

But Harris said many people are being harmed by secondhand smoke cigarettes at places like bus stops.

"When people are smoking cigarettes in those areas and a bus pulls up and opens its doors, all the smoke cigarettes billows right into the bus," she said. "So, people who aren't smoking cigarettes are exposed."

The board also chose to ban smoking cigarettes at playgrounds, city parks and athletic fields "because that's where kids and parents congregate, and we want to limit exposure for children, and increase positive role modeling so that kids don't see people smoking cigarettes there."

As for enforcement, Harris said, the emphasis will be on helping citizens understand the law.

"We're hoping to do a lot of education," Harris said. "We're not expecting police officers to run around and ticket people for smoking cigarettes."

Bill Burch, chairman of the Durham County Board of Health, said the 11-member board approved the new smoking cigarettes ban rule unanimously, and noted that it does not apply to outdoor smoking cigarettes at private businesses.

"The Board of Health is quite interested in improving the health of Durham County citizens," Burch said. "I think this will give an additional incentive to folks to rethink the habit, and hopefully stop smoking cigarettes."

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Atlantic City Casinos Must Enforce No-smoking Laws

Recent reports show Atlantic City’s 11 casinos often fail to enforce New Jersey’s anti-smoking cigarettes laws.

There is no reason for the casino floors in Atlantic City to be exempt from the total smoking cigarettes ban that is enforced in every other workplace in the state. The casino industry claims that a total smoking cigarettes ban will hurt business; however, there is little evidence to back up this claim.

In 2008, the casinos in Atlantic City were smoke-free for one month beginning on Oct. 15. According to figures from the Casino Control Commission, the declines in revenues in October and November during the ban were less severe than they were in September and December, when smoking cigarettes was permitted.

All casinos in Delaware and New York are completely smoke-free and have suffered less drastic declines in revenue than casinos in Atlantic City during the recession. In fact, Yonkers’ Raceway is the top-grossing racino in the country.

According to the American Heart Association, about 22,700 to 69,600 premature deaths from heart and blood vessel disease are caused by other people’s smoke cigarettes each year. A total ban on smoking cigarettes in all areas of the casino will make for a healthier environment in the casino and reduce confusion about enforcement.

It is time that casino employees and patrons in Atlantic City enjoy the same protections from the dangers of secondhand smoke cigarettes that are afforded to all other workers in the Garden State.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Students Favor Smoking Ban, Poll Results Say

The results are in and the majority of the people who responded to a campus-wide poll, issued by the University of South Dakota Student Government Association, want it to be against the campus policy to smoke cigarettes a cigarette anywhere on campus.
With 1,192 participants, SGA Vice President Nick Weinandt said 52.2 percent of students polled want a ban on campus and 64.4 percent said they would like to see at a minimum, a change in the current policy.
"Its a pretty good number for polls at this university," Weinandt told the SGA."There are numbers bigger than some but I don't know if you can act on those," he said, suggesting the poll might not be enough to move ahead with a outdoor campus smoking cigarettes ban.
Of those polled, 65.4 percent of students thought smoking cigarettes should be allowed at a certain distance from the residence halls while 62.3 percent said smoking cigarettes should be further limited.
Sophomore Aaron Polkinghorn said enforcement of the current policies should be the main priority, which stipulates smoking cigarettes must take place at least 25 feet from a building.
"I think there are two sides to it," said Polinghorn, who took the poll. "The smokers will generally think it's not fair for them to go a certain distance and it bothers non-smokers as they are walking out of a building."
SGA Senator Stanford Swanson, chair of the State and Local committee overseeing the smoking cigarettes ban resolution, said the questions asked were phrased poorly, but students got the idea and so did SGA.
Swanson said the committee needs more time since he is the only returning senator.
"If anything does get changed its not going to be too major," Swanson said. "We will have to sit down and take a look at this more in depth this coming fall."
Swanson said there was support by the university when he told The Volante in February that Dean of Students James Parker was in full support of the idea.
SGA unanimously voted to conduct the poll in February to have a better understanding of the students' opinion. Swanson said they will continue researching a campus-wide smoking cigarettes ban throughout the summer and begin the discussion again during the fall semester.
"Realistically I don't think the university has the resources to make that change," said Swanson, a prime sponsor of the resolution. "It's going to come down to common courtesy on a student-by-student basis. You can't just say you need to be nice and expect it to happen."
Polkinghorn agreed with Swanson and said the enforcement of the existing policy is a reachable goal for the university.
"There are always going to be some people that stretch the rules or will be able to allude the policy somehow though,"
Polkinghorn said.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Spartanburg City Council Approves Smoking Ordinance

Several downtown restaurant owners vowed to continue to fight the newly adopted smoking cigarettes ban after Spartanburg City Council overwhelmingly approved the ordinance Monday.

Kevin Moore, proprietor of Delaney's Irish Pub, said he will continue to talk to council members up to the day the ordinance becomes effective on Sept. 1.

The ordinance restricts smoking cigarettes in downtown bars and restaurants, and smokers must be at least 15 feet from an establishment's entrance and exit and ventilation system so the smoke cigarettes doesn't infiltrate the business. A restaurant owner can have a designated smoking cigarettes area, but it must meet the distance requirements. The smoking cigarettes area can't be used for dining.

The ordinance doesn't restrict smoking cigarettes on city sidewalks.

Councilwoman Linda Dogan was the lone council member to vote against the ordinance. Councilman Robert Reeder voted against the ordinance on first reading at the last council meeting, but voted in favor of it on Monday.

Reeder said he needed clarification on several points. He said he's disappointed there won't be designated smoking cigarettes areas at city-sponsored events such as Spring Fling, Music on Main and International Festival, but was pleased that smoking cigarettes wouldn't be restricted if groups rented city-owned facilities.

"I was willing to come to a compromise; that's what politics is all about and this issue is no different," Reeder said.

Moore, who said he also was speaking on behalf of other downtown business owners, said he's concerned about the distance requirement for a smoking cigarettes area. Delaney's is one of a few downtown restaurants that allows smoking cigarettes.

"I don't have outdoor seating and even if I did, it wouldn't meet the 15 feet requirements," Moore said. "I have the biggest smoking cigarettes bar in Spartanburg and to be honest, I'm concerned about how this will effect not only my business, but a lot of businesses downtown."

Bob Turner, 63, said he's a former smoker who's lived in Spartanburg his entire life. He said a smoking cigarettes ban will not likely hurt downtown businesses since areas that have enacted similar bans have reported business actually has increased.

"I think it's about time Spartanburg did what other forward-thinking communities are doing," Turner said. "It's about breathing clean air — we all have a right to that."

Wild Wings general manager Ramsey Roe said his restaurant allows smoking cigarettes upstairs and on a patio, and said he tries to please all of his patrons.

"I'm disappointed (with the ordinance)," Roe said. "I'd like there to be an option for both parties to try to work this out because as it stands now, this severely limits how we can operate."

Moore said the impact on his business was unclear.

"Hopefully, we can sit down with the city to try to work this out because we want people to come downtown — not just to this restaurant; downtown, period," Roe said. "I just don't think this is a way to get people down here."

Individuals and business owners who violate the ordinance are subject to a fine between $10 and $25.

In other business, council unanimously approved appropriating almost $1 million in one-time expenditures. The city has a balance of $472,974 remaining from the sale of the sewer system to Spartanburg Water, and Assistant City Manager Chris Story said staff is confident after the last bond sale for the Arkwright Landfill closure funds will be sufficient. Staff estimates about $506,154 remaining in that fund.

Council voted to use those proceeds — about $979,128 — for the following: $350,000 toward the settlement of the Marriott at Renaissance Park lawsuit; $215,000 to close-out several completed capital projects; $250,000 toward the long-term Northside initiative; $50,000 for website improvements to improve web-based citizen communication; $28,670 for a grant match to connect the Mary Black Rail Trail to the Union Street Skate Park; $67,000 to update the interface for enterprise system software; and $18,458 for a grant match for Downtown Memorial Airport site work.

Council also unanimously approved two property donations to the city. The owners of 222 Ernest L. Collings Ave. and 492 Greenlea St. offered the parcels to the city. The city will incur demolition costs on both sites and pay the 2010 taxes on the properties ($969.43 for both properties).

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Cigarettes Tax Is A Win-Win For Rhode Island

Tobacco taxes have proven to be a major public policy success all across the US. Taxing cigarettes helps reduce cigarette smoking cigarettes (and other tobacco use) as it raises the revenue states need, so that states can afford to treat the illnesses tobacco use causes.

The CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) regards raising tobacco prices as a best practice in reducing smoking cigarettes – the leading preventable cause of death and disease nationally – because those higher prices keep people from smoking cigarettes – and that saves lives and hundreds of millions in healthcare costs each year.

Each year, smoking cigarettes costs the Rhode Island economy more than $1.2 billion, according to a recent study commissioned by the American Lung Association. The average price of a pack of cheap cigarettes is $8.12 while the cost to the state per pack is $31.20 – nearly 400 percent more than smokers pay.

Rhode Island has the second highest cigarette tax in the nation. We also have the third lowest youth smoking cigarettes rate and the fifth lowest adult smoking cigarettes rate in the US. This is not a coincidence.

As cigarette taxes climbed in the early 2000s from $.71 to $3.46, consumption declined markedly. Rhode Island’s youth smoking cigarettes rate decreased 62 percent between 1997 and 2008. According to an economic analysis conducted by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, every ten percent increase in cigarette prices reduces youth smoking cigarettes by approximately seven percent and total cigarette consumption by four percent.

Rhode Islanders fought hard for cigarette tax increases over time, and as a result, we’ve seen significant reductions in smoking cigarettes initiation, cigarette consumption, and exposure to secondhand smoke. What’s more, these taxes have become a vital financial resource for our state and, unlike some taxes, enjoy overwhelming public support.

But there are still 1,600 Rhode Islanders who die from smoking cigarettes each year. Nearly all of them began smoking cigarettes before age 18.

Rhode Island’s tobacco tax has been a win-win for the Rhode Island and Rhode Islanders. Fewer smokers, fewer kids with a disgusting, expensive, deadly habit – and a state better able to afford its health care costs.

Why be second best? Let’s keep the tobacco tax as it is, and help make Rhode Island the healthiest state in the union.

Dr. Michael Fine is the Interim Director of HEALTH

Friday, May 13, 2011

Oregon Lawmakers Aim To Limit Growth Of Hookah Lounges

As Oregon lawmakers and advocacy groups have sought to make the state's indoor buildings smoke cigarettes free, they say one type of business was unintentionally exempted from the rules -- hookah lounges.

Hookah lounges are popular among college-age kids, who frequent the businesses to hang out, study and socialize while smoking cigarettes flavored cigarettes from water pipes.

Last week, the Oregon House approved new rules that would allow existing hookah lounges to remain open while essentially squashing efforts to open any new ones.

Some lawmakers, like the bill's sponsor Rep. Carolyn Tomei, D-Milwaukie, had hoped to shut down the lounges altogether.

"Many kids do not even realize that it is tobacco," Tomei said. "They don't sense the dangers when the hookah is flavored and sweetened like melon or peach."

Tomei said the lounges undermine efforts to educate teens about the hazards of smoking cigarettes. But she admitted that getting the bill through an evenly-divided Oregon House required compromise.

House Bill 2726 would allow currently certified tobacco shops, cigar shops and hookah lounges to continue operating, but creates stiff restrictions on the type of shops that could open in the future.

New shops would have a maximum seating capacity of only four people and would be prohibited from selling food and drinks.

Rami Jouni, of the Oregon Hookah Association, said that while the twice-amended bill would put more restrictions on lounges, it keeps businesses open and people employed.

"The original bill was going to shut down our dreams, everything we've built in the last two or three years," said Jouni, who owns the three-year-old Beirut Lounge in Tigard. "People have poured their life savings into these businesses believing it was a secure investment."

Jouni, whose college degree is in computer science, decided to open a hookah lounge after his job at a local company was eliminated during the recession.

"I decided to do something that brought some of my culture to my new home," said Jouni, a native of Lebanon who has lived in the United States for nearly a decade.

Hookahs are water pipes that originated in ancient Persia and India and typically come in fruit flavors such as peach and melon or in ones that resemble alcoholic beverages such as strawberry daiquiri and margarita. Lounge customers, or those who purchase the flavored tobacco called "shisha," must be 18 and older. Lounges do not serve alcohol.

Tomei and others became more involved in the issue after the Oregon Public Health Division's Tobacco Prevention and Education Program released a study in November that showed growth in hookah smoking cigarettes among teens.

According to the study, the prevalence of hookah smoking cigarettes increased among Oregon eighth and 11th graders between 2008 and 2009, according to Oregon Healthy Teens survey data. Also, the air quality inside hookah lounges ranged from moderate to hazardous according to the Environmental Protection Agency Air Quality Index.

After facing vocal opposition to the original version of the bill, Tomei negotiated a deal with the Oregon Hookah Association and representatives of advocacy groups like the American Lung Association.

All the groups support the latest version of the bill.

"It may not be what I want, but people followed the rules and invested in a business," said Rep. Val Hoyle, D-Eugene, who spoke in support of the bill on the House floor. "We can't say that for the greater good, we will take what you have invested and close you down."

HB 2726 received support from nearly all Democrats, but only about one-third of House Republicans. Some expressed concern that the bill would create a monopoly for the current shops and could discourage people from opening tobacco businesses.

"I think in trying to stop the proliferation of hookah bars, we should avoid crushing cigar and smoke cigarettes shops," said Rep. Matt Wingard, R-Wilsonville.

Wingard isn't the only one concerned about the consequences of the bill. HB 2726 now heads to the Oregon Senate, where it is likely to face additional amendments.

In Sen. Chris Telfer's Bend-area district, a cigar shop that met Oregon laws before the state implemented new smoke cigarettes shop legislation in 2009 lost certification because the shop doesn't have its own separate building.

Telfer, a Republican, had been working on a bill that would allow cigar shops in that situation to continue operating despite the new rules. That bill died in committee, but Tiffany Telfer, the senator's daughter and chief of staff, said they plan on putting that idea into the House bill.

"The intent of the House bill is to stop the proliferation of hookah lounges, essentially making it impossible for them to meet the new requirements," Tiffany Telfer said. "But, unfortunately, it does the same for this tobacco shop that wants to open as a smoke cigarettes shop."

Thursday, May 12, 2011

We All Pay For Unhealthy Behaviors

Just like secondhand smoke, unhealthy habits hurt us all. In Coos County, they hurt a lot.
Rankings by the Public Health Institute at the University of Wisconsin and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation put us dead last -- to coin a phrase -- among Oregon's 33 counties for a list of poor health behaviors: smoking cigarettes, obesity, excessive drinking and deadly driving.
So much for role models. Yet even if you forgo tobacco, eat sensibly, exercise, imbibe in moderation, and drive like a DMV examiner, you still pay for your neighbors' mistakes.
That's because:
• Sick days and long-term disabilities boost the cost of goods and services we buy, as well as the taxes we pay.
• Health insurers base their rates on regional profiles. Our smokers, overeaters and drunken drivers are an invitation for an insurer's actuaries to raise everyone's premiums.
Hoping to brighten this grim picture, the Coos County Health Department -- aided by the Coos County Friends of Public Health, the Northwest Health Foundation's Community Health Priorities grant, and Bay Area Hospital -- has organized four public forums to promote better health.
Two sessions remain:
• 5:30 p.m. Thursday in the Community Health Education Center, 3950 Sherman Ave., North Bend.
• 5:30 p.m. the next Thursday, April 27, at The Barn in Bandon.
On May 12, city councilors, large employers, business leaders, school superintendents and the like will reap the ideas from the forums to devise strategies to improve Coos County's wellness.
Strategies are a good start, but the cause also needs champions. What service clubs, businesses and local institutions will exert active leadership to make wellness a priority for our communities?
We'll go first: The World is eager to provide news coverage and promotional support, in print and online. Will you do your part as well?

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Cigarettes To Blame

Firefighters doused another blaze started by cheap cigarettes Monday night, and investigators said it's the sixth incident in the past three months.

Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue crews responded to the 12000 block of SW North Dakota street in Tigard just before 8 p.m. after reports of balcony fire at the apartment complex. When crews arrived they found a passerby had knocked down the flames, but firefighters worked to ensure that the fire was completely out.

TVF&R investigators determined the fire was caused by a lit cigarette tossed into a plastic trash container that was being used as an ashtray. Residents told investigators they regularly threw cheap smokes and combustible trash into the container.

The fire caused $10,000 in damages to the apartment.

"Never use anything that can burn or melt as an ashtray," said Brian Barker, a TVF&R spokesman. "That means that you should not use plastic trash containers, plastic coffee cans, or planters filled with potting soil. Potting soil or bark chips can easily catch fire."

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

County Campaigns Against Secondhand Smoke

An estimated 4,000 people each year in California die from secondhand smoke, according to Santa Clara County Department of Public Health officials, who kicked off an ad campaign Tuesday to warn people about the dangers of secondhand smoke.

The campaign was announced at a news conference April 26 with county Supervisor Ken Yeager and Campbell Mayor Jason Baker, who said that as a father of two kids, he is especially concerned about the impact of secondhand smoke.

"Smoking stops being a personal choice when you expose others to secondhand smoke," Baker said.

According to Dr. Marty Fenstersheib, health officer for the county, in California an estimated 3,600 non-smokers who reside with smokers die from heart disease each year, and roughly 400 die from lung cancer.

The campaign is part of a wider two-year county initiative to bring together a coalition of schools, health care facilities and community organizations to prevent young people from smoking cigarettes, help smokers quit and reduce exposure to secondhand smoke.

Funding for the project was provided by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Santa Clara County was one of only three counties in the state to receive the "Communities Putting Prevention to Work" grant.

The campaign features a TV ad in English, Spanish and Vietnamese that shows how secondhand smoke cigarettes affects young children.

The commercial will air beginning this month through July on the Comcast cable network in Santa Clara County, the Spanish-language broadcast networks Univision and Telemundo, and several Vietnamese outlets. Full-page print ads will be featured in newspapers and outreach materials.

Yeager is part of a 16-member team that leads the county initiative, and he also serves as vice chair of the Board of Supervisors' Health and Hospital Committee.

Last year, Yeager and the board, approved ordinances that set restrictions on smoking cigarettes in workplaces, parks and multi-unit housing in unincorporated areas of the county.

One of the ordinances passed requires retailers that sell cigarettes in unincorporated areas to obtain and maintain an annual permit, limits the number of retail stores near schools, and bans the sale of flavored tobacco products.

Under the ordinance, new retail outlets will be prohibited from selling tobacco if they operate a pharmacy or are located within 1,000 feet of a school or within 500 feet of another tobacco retailer.

Many opponents of the ordinance have said the regulations are punitive and discriminatory toward small businesses.

The board also passed an ordinance that bans smoking cigarettes at the Santa Clara County Fairgrounds, outdoor shopping malls, all county parks, in hotels and motels, at retail stores that exclusively sell tobacco and smoking cigarettes products, and within 30 feet of any outdoor service area, such as a ticket line.

The third ordinance passed bans smoking cigarettes in duplexes, condo and townhouse complexes, and apartment buildings. The ordinance does permit setting up designated smoking cigarettes areas at least 30 feet away from doors and windows.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Possible Cigarette Tax Hikes In Store For Alabama

State representatives in Alabama and Maine are seeking cigarette tax hikes of $1 per pack and $1.50 per pack respectively, reported tobacco-news.net and Forbes.

Alabama State Rep. Patricia Todd (D-Birmingham) proposed House Bill 457, which would raise the state's cigarette tax to $1.425 per pack. Todd stated that the tax funds would raise an estimated $230 million a year and primarily benefit Medicaid and the Children First Trust Fund, as well as encourage smokers to quit the habit. "It's a win-win," said Todd.

If the bill passes, Alabama's cigarette tax would be the 23rd highest in the country as of last July. However, Speaker Mike Hubbard cast doubt that the bill would go anywhere, since the House has a Republican majority and many Republicans ran on anti-tax platforms during the last election. "I don't see Republicans voting for a 10-cent tax on cigarettes," said Hubbard.

Todd agreed, adding that her goal is to explain the bill, receive feedback and bring it back next year. "Next year, we may get a little further," said Todd. "It's the right thing to do."

Meanwhile, in Maine, the Taxation Committee is reviewing a bill that would raise the state's cigarette tax by $1.50 to $3.50 per pack. If passed, the added revenue would help fund a cigarettes help line. According to The American Lung Association of Maine, when the state last raised its cigarette tax by $1, calls to the help line drastically increased.

Groups representing convenience stores, grocers and other tobacco-selling businesses expressed opposition to the bill, citing possible negative impact to businesses and the possibility that a tax increase would simply send smokers across the state line to New Hampshire to purchase their cigarettes.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

California Supreme Court Ends Big Cigarettes’s Campaign To Deny Smokers Justice

On May 5, 2011, the California Supreme Court ended big tobacco’s campaign to deny Californians injured by cigarettes access to justice. In the case of Nikki Pooshs, big tobacco had successfully argued in the lower court that a lung cancer victim could not sue them because the victim’s time to do so had expired decades before when the victim experienced a lesser tobacco injury. The case was brought on appeal before the Federal Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to challenge the lower court's ruling. (Pooshs v. Phillip Morris USA, Inc. (9th Cir. 2009) 561 F.3d 964)
The Ninth Ciruit Court, in order to clarify the issue, asked Certified Questions of the California Supreme Court, which the Court combined into one:
“When multiple distinct personal injuries allegedly arise from smoking cigarettes tobacco, does the earliest injury trigger the statute of limitations for all claims, including those based on a later injury?”
In answering the question, the California Supreme Court stated:
"In response to the Ninth Circuit’s inquiry, we conclude that when a later-discovered latent disease is separate and distinct from an earlier-discovered disease, the earlier disease does not trigger the statute of limitations for a lawsuit based on the later disease."
This is a distinct victory for Nikki Pooshs and an important decision clarifying the law in California concerning latent and distinct diseases in tobacco. If the Court had ruled the other way, as tobacco wanted, it would have basically eviscerated the rights of cancer victims—whose cancer was directly caused by tobacco use—for redress for latent injuries. It often takes years for lung cancer from tobacco use to appear and may be preceded by lesser injuries that would not predispose a person to developing cancer down the road.
Senior trial partner of Brayton Purcell, Gilbert Purcell stated: “Nikki Pooshs’ fight to survive so that this issue could once and for all be determined for all individual smokers in California shows her resolve. All Californians victimized by the tobacco industry owe her a huge debt of gratitude.”
An Uphill Battle Against Big Tobacco to Win Her Day in Court
Twenty years ago Nikki Pooshs developed periodontal disease and COPD related to smoking cigarettes. At the time, she decided to live with both of these conditions rather than pursue a remedy in the courts. According to Phillip Morris, when she later developed lung cancer and timely sued for this far more serious—and potentially fatal—disease she is out of luck.
Big tobacco’s position was absurd under existing California law. Their position would require that you file a suit for cancer as soon as you are diagnosed with a less serious disease caused by use of the tobacco company’s products. In essence, your cancer would be entirely speculative, particularly if the first diseases you are diagnosed with would not predispose you to develop cancer at a later date. A lung cancer case where the cancer is not present and there is no clear indication of the potential threat for lung cancer to develop is in reality no case at all.
Under Phillip Morris’ interpretation of California’s “single injury rule,” you could never be compensated for cancer once you were diagnosed with a lesser disease years before the cancer presented itself. As we pointed out in the conclusion to our brief, “To hold otherwise would produce the Kafkaesque result that healthy plaintiffs would be required to file speculative lawsuits for cancer and other injuries that they did not have, and probably will not get, while terminally ill and suffering plaintiffs would be barred from reasonable compensation on the ground they sued too late.”
With advent of the California Supreme Court decision, Mr. Purcell stated, “Now tobacco must defend its products in California on the merits instead of tortured statute of limitations arguments never intended by California lawmakers. Like the Engle progeny cases being courageously tried throughout Florida, we look forward to California juries getting to hear the sordid story that is big tobacco.”

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Office Of The Attorney General

Attorney General Jack Conway announced today that Kentucky, as required under the 1998 Master Settlement Agreement (MSA) between the major cigarettes manufacturers and 52 states and territories, received its annual payment of nearly $100 million in tobacco settlement money this week.

“The money Kentucky receives each year from the MSA provides funding for many invaluable programs –from agriculture to education,” General Conway said. “My office continues to closely monitor and enforce the agreement and stands ready to defend actions brought to challenge it in both state and federal courts.”

Under the MSA, the tobacco companies agreed to make annual payments in perpetuity to the settling states, to fund a national foundation dedicated to significantly reducing the use of tobacco products by youth and to abide by certain restrictions on promotional and lobbying activity. Kentucky’s share of the settlement is approximately $3.45 billion over the first 25 years. Payments are determined according to a formula that is calculated, in part, by the number of cheap cigarettes sold by companies that have agreed to join the settlement. This year’s payment totals $99.8 million.

The total received by Kentucky since the initial MSA payment in 1999 is $1.3 billion for “Phase I.” An additional $600 million was received by Kentucky tobacco growers under “Phase II,” the Tobacco Growers Trust Agreement, which was created as a result of an MSA provision to address affected tobacco-growing communities in 14 states.

Most of the MSA payment was to be paid by the three largest cigarette manufacturers - Philip Morris USA, RJ Reynolds, and Lorillard. Philip Morris USA, RJ Reynolds and Lorillard put into a disputed payment account more than $750 million based upon their claim to reduced payments under a provision in the MSA called the Non-Participating Manufacturer (NPM) Adjustment. The Office of Attorney General is currently participating in an ongoing proceeding to obtain Kentucky’s full share of the disputed payment amounts going back several years.

This year marks the 12th full year since the signing of the landmark MSA. Cigarette sales nationally are down more than 30% since the agreement went into effect and the public health provisions of the MSA that restrict cigarette advertising and promotion in numerous ways have changed the way cheap smokes are marketed in the United States. This decline will have significant long-term effects on the health of Kentucky citizens and in health care costs related to smoking cigarettes in the future.

Although a portion of the payment was disputed, participating manufacturers still paid the states that are signatories to the agreement more than $6 billion this week, bringing the total payments made under the MSA thus far to all settling states to more than $66 billion.

Friday, May 6, 2011

High Court Hears Tavern Smoking Ban Challenge

Four and a half years after a smoking cigarettes ban went into effect, the Nevada Supreme Court is considering a case that could overturn a law some tavern owners say has ruined their businesses.

The court heard arguments Monday in Carson City from an attorney for Bilbo's Bar & Grill. The establishment's parent company, Bent Barrel, is suing the Southern Nevada Health District and challenging the constitutionality of the Nevada Clean Indoor Air Act as it is applies to businesses.

Bilbo's lawsuit, on appeal from the Clark County District Court, claims the law violates the bar owner's right to commercial free speech by requiring removal of shot glasses, ashtrays and matches Bilbo's uses for advertising.

Terry Coffing, the Health District's attorney, tried to convince the justices that the Bilbo's argument was just a cover to let patrons break the law by smoking cigarettes.

"They only gave them out to people who were lighting up," he said of shot glasses and ashtrays. "If you call it an ashtray, it is an ashtray."

At least some of the court's justices seemed sympathetic to Bilbo's argument.

"I used matches to light my barbecue," Justice Mark Gibbons, a nonsmoker, pointed out.

Robert Peccole, the lawyer for Bilbo's and a shareholder in the company, told the justices the law's use of the phrase "smoking cigarettes paraphernalia" is unconstitutionally vague. He further argued that the District Court erred when it required Bilbo's to tell employees smoking cigarettes was prohibited in certain areas.

"In this case, as it is applied, you have a situation where the statute is being arbitrarily enforced," Peccole said. "For one, the Health District has not cited a single person who puffs on a cigarette."

The 2006 passage of the Nevada Clean Indoor Air Act resulted in a ban on smoking cigarettes in taverns that serve food, and in most other public places. Exempted were casinos, which include taverns with unrestricted gaming licenses.

Bilbo's and other taverns with restricted gaming licenses claimed the exemption violates their right to equal protection. Bars with more than 15 slot machines have unrestricted gaming licenses, can serve food and can allow smoking cigarettes. Peccole, however, ran out of time and did not argue that point before the justices Monday.

In 2009, the Nevada Supreme Court ruled the smoking cigarettes ban was constitutional on its face as a civil law. But the justices left the door open for a future constitutional challenge based on the way the law was applied.

Peccole repeatedly quoted from the justices' past comments on the Nevada Clean Indoor Air Act to make his case against the Health District.

"You warned them, 'If you make a (bar) owner do your duty ... you are looking at a challenge,' " he told the justices.

Locally, about 100 taverns have closed as a result of financial losses related to the smoking cigarettes ban, the Nevada Taverns Owners Association says.

Roger Sachs, the association's president and owner of three Steiner's A Nevada Style Pub locations, said his revenue fell about 30 percent from the smoking cigarettes ban implementation in December 2006 to the summer of 2007.

"Seven of our top 10 gamblers are smokers," he said.

Sachs conceded that it's tough to stop smoking cigarettes in his pubs.

"We ask people not to light up, but we don't throw them out if they do,'' he said.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Activists Seek Ban On Casino Smoking

Faced with increased competition from gaming in other states, Las Vegas hotels and resorts have been less than enthusiastic about an outright ban of smoking cigarettes in their casinos.

A number of casinos on the Strip and in Las Vegas have tried to accommodate nonsmokers by setting aside smoke-free table games or slot machine areas. But anti-smoking cigarettes activists say it isn't enough. They want an outright ban on smoking cigarettes in Nevada casinos.

To update their strategy and message, activists and casino workers will gather for three days of strategy sessions and workshops.

"Casino workers and activists continue to strive toward a smoke-free environment within casinos in Las Vegas," said Karen Blumenfeld, executive director of the Summit, N.J.-based Global Advisors on Smokefree Policy and an organizer of the event, which runs May 9-11.

Blumenfeld was quick to point out that their event would be held at the Marriott, a nonsmoking cigarettes hotel in Las Vegas.

Virginia Valentine, president of the Nevada Resort Association, said it was an individual's choice whether or not to gamble in a casino.

"We support the rights of individuals to choose smoking cigarettes or non-smoking cigarettes venues designed for adults," Valentine said. "Our properties provide both smoking cigarettes and smoke-free opportunities to accommodate customer preferences."

Blumenfeld expects anti-smoking cigarettes groups to step up their efforts in the coming months by filing Americans with Disabilities Act claims seeking to force casinos into an outright smoking cigarettes ban.

The 20-year-old act requires buildings and workplaces to be accessible to people with visible handicaps, but it also offers similar protection for people with breathing problems. Past attempts have failed in Nevada, where smoking cigarettes is permitted by law in most casino gaming areas.

But recent changes in the act widen the range of disabilities covered and specify that medical conditions routinely controlled by medication or ones that rarely flare up are covered if they otherwise hamper a person's ability to breathe and move.

The new regulations issued last month by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission were mandated by the ADA Amendments Act of 2008 and will take effect May 24.

"It's not a new angle, but breathing problems are exacerbated by secondhand smoke, making it a barrier to access where smoking cigarettes is permitted," Blumenfeld said.

She cited a New Jersey case in which a former casino employee who said his lung cancer was caused by 25 years of exposure to secondhand smoke cigarettes at work settled a lawsuit against his former employer for $4.5 million.

Vince Rennich, who claims to have never smoked a cigarette, filed his lawsuit against the Tropicana Atlantic City in 2006, after he learned he had lung cancer.

Rennich, 52, who had part of a lung removed and now works in a nonsmoking cigarettes casino in Delaware, was a high-profile supporter of a movement that has curtailed smoking cigarettes in Atlantic City's 11 casinos where smoking cigarettes is allowed on only 25 percent of the casino floor.

Blumenfeld isn't satisfied with New Jersey's partial ban. According to the American Gaming Association, a minority of states, among the 22 that allow commercial and racetrack casinos, have implemented outright bans on smoking cigarettes.

Delaware, Maryland, Illinois and New York are among eight states that ban smoking cigarettes in all parts of a casino property. Five states, including New Mexico and Mississippi, have no smoking cigarettes ban.

In Nevada and most other states with casino gambling, the rule is smoking cigarettes is banned in nongaming parts of the property, except for the casino floor. The Clean Air Act, which was passed by Nevada voters and took effect on Dec. 8, 2006, banned smoking cigarettes basically anywhere except casinos, bars that don't serve food and brothels.

As a result, McCarran International Airport eliminated its indoor smoking cigarettes areas. Airport officials have blamed that decision and several other economic factors for the airport's declining gaming revenues.

Since McCarran reported gaming revenues of $40.9 million for fiscal year 2007, revenues have steadily declined year over year to $25.7 million in fiscal year 2010.

For the first six months of fiscal year 2011, gaming revenues were $12.5 million, a 3.2 percent decline from the $12.9 million for the same period last year.

The decline was also attributed "to the general downturn in the economy" and the "discontinuation of late-night hubbing" at McCarran by U.S. Airways.

Meanwhile, the gathering of anti-smoking cigarettes advocates comes during a meeting of the ADA National Network, which is being held at Paris Las Vegas. Blumenfeld also said the American Heart Association's annual dinner is scheduled for Saturday at the Mirage.

The American Lung Association's conference on advances on respiratory care is being held next month at Harrah's.

"The number one trigger for asthmatics is secondhand smoke," she said. "Anyone receiving respiratory care should not be exposed to any levels of secondhand smoke."

All three hotels permit smoking cigarettes. Blumenfeld urged all three health advocacy groups to find other venues.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Vermont Senate OKs Tax

The Senate wrapped up two days of stop-and-start deliberations on a $24.3 million tax package Friday with a 20-8 vote of support, followed quickly by a nearly unanimous vote for a $4.68 billion budget to operate state government next year.

The tax bill, which the Senate had to pass to fund its spending plan, included a 53-cent cigarette-tax increase, a compromise between the Senate Finance Committee's proposed $1 increase and Gov. Peter Shumlin's demand for no increase at all.

Senators rejected an amendment to raise income-tax rates on the two highest tax brackets for three years in order to raise an additional $16.7 million a year, but the lengthy debate Friday morning showed that more than just seven senators likely would support an income-tax increase in the future.

The cigarette tax compromise turned out to be unexpectedly difficult to achieve because Shumlin and Senate President Pro Tempore John Campbell, D-Windsor, took their differences to the Senate floor for a vote Thursday. Shumlin won a narrow 16-14 victory on a motion to delete the dollar increase, but he failed to persuade senators to go along with his alternative: a tax on dental services.

The Senate voted Friday to replace the proposed $1 increase in the cigarette tax with the 53-cent increase and a bigger tax on medical and dental insurance claims.

The Shumlin administration's dental-service tax is off the table. The final version of the tax package, which the House and Senate begin to negotiate next week, almost certainly will include an increase in the cigarette tax -- despite the governor's objections. The House proposed a 27-cent increase.

Sen. Anthony Pollina, D/P-Washington, suggested the $24.3 million revenue package wasn't enough. He argued the budget, which only he had voted against when it came up for preliminary approval, made too many cuts -- $38 million -- to important programs.

He said Vermont's wealthiest residents -- about 4,000 tax filers -- should be asked to share their resources with their neighbors in need. He reminded senators that people in the highest tax brackets benefited from significant tax savings as a result of Congress' decision to extend federal tax cuts.

"We talk a lot about values in this chamber," Pollina said. "There is no better reflection of our values than how we raise and spend Vermonters' money."

Sen. Richard Sears, D-Bennington, disputed Pollina's description of the harshness of the Senate's budget. Sears, who helped write the budget as a member of the Appropriations Committee, noted, for example, that only $1 million had been cut from a proposed appropriation of $200 million for the Choices for Care program, which helps keep elderly Vermonters in their homes rather than having to enter nursing homes.

"I'm dumbfounded by some of the conversation about the budget," Sears said.

Senate Finance Chairwoman Ann Cummings, D-Washington, made the case against supporting an income tax increase now.

"I would like nothing better than to vote for this amendment," she said. "I think I will -- but not until next year."

She said the Legislature likely would have to consider an income-tax increase and revisions to spending once it become clear how much Congress will shrink federal funding in order to bring down the deficit.

Sen. Randy Brock, R-Franklin, opposed the income-tax increase, too, saying people in the state's top tax brackets include small businesses. He called it poor policy to raise taxes on job-generators when the state is trying to expand employment opportunities and revitalize the economy.

Democrats split on the income-tax amendment, with seven supporting an increase now and 15 opposed. The Senate's seven Republicans stood together in opposition.

Senators made several other tweaks to the tax package before the final vote.

Lt. Gov. Phil Scott had to cast his first tie-breaking vote on one amendment that would extend an education property tax exemption to three nonprofit skating rinks used by public schools. He tipped the balance in favor after a 14-14 tie.

"These skating rinks provide for the physical education of Vermont students," Scott said in a statement released after his vote. "Without them, Vermont's schools would not have the facilities to support their hockey teams. This exemption reduces the financial burden on those rinks. I was proud to support Vermont schools with my tie-breaking vote today."

Senators seemed to have no energy left when it came time for final debate on the budget.

Sen. Vincent Illuzzi, R-Essex/Orleans, credited Appropriations Chairwoman Jane Kitchel, D-Caledonia, with leading the Senate to a spending plan that addressed as many needs as possible within significant financial constrictions.

"It was an open-door process, and everything was on the table," Illuzzi said. "The litmus test has been there have been only a few technical amendments offered."

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Shumlin Cuts Deal With Campbell On Cigarette Tax

Gov. Peter Shumlin has been spending more time at the Statehouse this week. He even paid a visit to the cafeteria on Wednesday to break bread with House Speaker Shap Smith and others. (The governor has graced the dining hall a handful of times over the course of the session.)

It’s not the governor’s usual breakfast haunt, and so when he walks into the room with his security entourage in tow, Shumlin draws a fair amount of attention.

It was a reminder that the governor has been a presence in the Statehouse this week.

Shumlin has been lobbying senators to drop the cigarette tax.

Shumlin has said from the beginning of the session that he would object to the levy on tobacco, but no one in the building knew just how aggressively he would protect that stance — until this week.

Shumlin has pressed senators to agree with his anti-cigarette position, despite Senate President Pro Tem John Campbell’s objections. The governor was determined to levy a $3.2 million tax on the dentists, which both the House and the Senate have refused to impose in the miscellaneous tax bill.

“The governor was adamantly opposed to a cigarette tax — especially a $1 a pack tax — so he (Shumlin) talked to several members in the Senate,” Campbell said.

That was yesterday. Today it appeared that support in the Senate for the tax, Campbell said, “wasn’t as strong as he wanted it to be,” and so he negotiated with Shumlin to drop the increase to 53 cents and instead bump up the assessment on health insurance claims from 0.65 percent to 0.9 percent.

Shumlin has insisted on a provider tax for dentists; Campbell refused to agree to the proposed assessment.

So, is the governor throwing his weight around more than usual? Campbell says Shumlin’s tactics are typical of any governor. Campbell characterized the meetings with individual senators as the governor’s prerogative, and he said both Gov. Howard Dean and Gov. Jim Douglas pulled lawmakers aside to change their votes on a given issue. “He’s well within his rights to bring members in,” Campbell said. “That happened all the time.”

As for the Statehouse scuttlebutt that Shumlin is attempting to run the Senate from the Fifth Floor, Campbell says: “People are going to say whatever they want…“Anyone who thinks I’m doing Peter Shumlin’s bidding is wrong. I think it’s been clear I’m my own person. My intention is to protect the Senate’s position.”

The resolution of the tax bill revenue sourcing paves the way for passage of the budget bill.

Budget bill cuts state spending by 3.7 percent over fiscal year 2011

The Senate Appropriations Committee voted out the Big Bill 5-0 on Wednesday, and it’s scheduled to hit the floor on Thursday.

The committee’s budget for fiscal year 2012 is largely based on the House bill. The total state budget for fiscal year 2012 is $4.68 billion, and that total represents 3.7 percent less than the previous year’s expenditures, according to the Joint Fiscal Office. Over a three year period, state spending has increased 2.3 percent.

The total General Fund budget spending increased by 7.3 percent in fiscal year 2012. That’s because the state had to replace $158 million in stimulus funding for core programs with General Fund dollars. The overall increase in the General Fund budget from 2009 to 2012, is 2.6 percent, according to the Joint Fiscal Office.

Sen. Jane Kitchel, D-Caledonia, described the budget process as a “daunting task.”

“The reductions are marbled throughout state government,” Kitchel said.

The Senate’s budget deviates from the House version by about $500,000. The governor had recommended more dramatic cuts to human services. Both the House and Senate agreed to soften the reductions in programs for the elderly, the developmentally disabled and the mentally ill. All three areas of the Agency of Human Services budget, however, took significant reductions.

The designated agencies will see a $5.5 million reduction (including Medicaid matching money) in funding for services to Vermonters who are developmentally disabled or mentally ill.

Funding for respite care and personal assistants for elderly Vermonters was not fully restored. The programs could see an $800,000 reduction unless, as expected, the Choices for Care program, which provides supports for seniors who want to stay in their own homes, saves money on nursing home care.

Shumlin eliminated the substance abuse counselor program for local high schools; lawmakers funded the positions at a 50 percent level.
The Vermont Employee Ownership Center is zeroed out.
The Area Agencies on Aging will see a $180,000 cut.
The budget includes $29 million in the human services caseload reserve. That money is a cushion in the event that demand for services increases again, as they did at the beginning of the recession.
Kitchel said they didn’t include $4.1 million in payments on interest for Unemployment Insurance from the federal government that were forgiven.
Any revenue above the forecast level would be set aside for the state’s Unemployment Insurance interest payment; another waterfall contingency plan would reserve money for unanticipated federal cuts to programs.

Monday, May 2, 2011

$1 Cigarette Tax Is Likely Up In Smoke

A heavy lobbying campaign to increase Vermont’s cigarette tax will continue its legislative push in an effort to reduce smoking cigarettes rates while raising an additional $10 million in revenue.
House members recently voted on a 27-cent increase on the state’s cigarette tax (currently at $2.24) before the Senate voted last week on a 53-cent hike in the Miscellaneous Tax bill. But the Coalition for a Tobacco Free Vermont says that is not enough to discourage smokers from lighting up.
"We are strongly still championing at least a 10 percent increase. We would love a dollar because that would bring the best public health benefit to Vermont, but you need to have at least a 65 cent increase (that would be a 10 percent increase) ... studies have shown that at least a 10 percent increase is needed to have a public health impact," said coalition coordinator Tina Zuk.
"Twenty-seven cents is just not worth it, and it doesn’t even produce that much revenue for the state and it probably won’t have any public health impact because you need to have a significant increase for [smokers] to even notice it," she said.
Anti-smoking cigarettes groups have pressured lawmakers to support a $1 increase in the tax, citing the hike as the most effective way to prevent youth smoking cigarettes. Raising the tax would create a $10.2 million increase in new revenue as well, according to the coalition.
"I think it’s important to not only look at the budget now, but down the road. We can’t be short-sighted with what we’re doing fiscally now because we’ll pay for it later," Zuk said.
But Gov. Peter Shumlin, a first-term Democrat, has lobbied for a smaller tax bump to keep Vermont on an even playing field with neighboring states.
"I don’t object to cigarette taxes, but right now, Vermont has $5 million of unexpected cash for the 2011 budget because our cigarette tax is lower than New York and competitive with Massachusetts and New Hampshire. The result has been that people have flooded into Vermont to buy cigarettes. While they’re there, they buy other things in our stores," he said.
The administration also disputes the full $1 increase would bring in $10 million annually, saying Vermont could see a loss in sales instead because other states will reap the benefits of lower cigarette prices.
"Those who say a dollar increase will bring us $10 million are smoking cigarettes something other than tobacco," Shumlin told the Reformer. In the end, the General Assembly will go home approving a small increase in the cigarette tax, but it will not be "penny-wise and pound-foolish," he added.
Rebecca Ryan, director of Health Promotion and Public Policy for the American Lung Association, said Shumlin is pushing for real health care reform but will not address cigarettes use.
"Vermont was a national leader in reducing the devastating impact of tobacco use, but the state’s investment in programs to prevent kids from smoking cigarettes and helping adults quit has been dramatically reduced over the last three years," Ryan said. "In addition, the evidence is clear that increasing the price of a pack of cigarettes is most effective at preventing kids from smoking cigarettes, Vermont has not had a significant increase since 2006 and the youth smoking cigarettes rate has not changed since 2005."
Sen. Jeanette White, D-Windham, said the proposed cigarette tax and the rest of the Miscellaneous Tax bill heads to the Committee of Conference.
"The Senate committee ended up with 53 cents, so there were a lot of differences between the House version and the Senate version," she said. "The conference committee is set up with three Senate members and three House members and they go and they do the final bill."
Any final compromise between the two proposes are not likely to increase, but find a median between the two.
The coalition has actively lobbied for cigarette tax increases since 2002 when the levy jumped from 44-cents to $1.19, and another 80-cent hike in the next four years.
In 2009, the Legislature increased the tax to its current level of $2.24 per pack.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Coalition Challenges Shumlin To Produce Stats On Cigarettes Tax Increase

In the wake of the Governor’s efforts to push the Senate last week to reduce a cigarette tax increase by $.47, a statewide public health coalition challenged the Governor today to back up his claims against the tax with actual statistics.

The Vermont Senate on Friday rejected a proposed $1.00 increase in the tax after much lobbying from the Governor, despite the fact that both the Senate Finance and Health and Welfare Committees strongly endorsed a $1.00 increase. Coordinator for the Coalition for a Tobacco Free Vermont, Tina Zuk said today, that the Coalition has years of evidence showing a significant increase in the cigarettes tax will get adults to quit, prevent kids from smoking cigarettes and raise much-needed revenue for the state while cutting health care costs. But, Governor Shumlin has strongly opposed the tax with no data supporting his claims.

“Seventy-six percent of Vermonters want a $1.00 increase and twenty-five years of research shows its effective, yet the governor continues to make unfounded claims against it. It’s time for the Governor to show clear evidence that a significant increase wouldn’t work or give the green light to the conference committee that a higher tax is needed,” said Zuk.

The Coalition presented media and the Governor’s office with a report from the State’s own Joint Fiscal Office and a briefing book showing data behind the effectiveness of a substantial tax increase in reducing tobacco use and providing a sustainable revenue source for states. The Coalition urged the Governor to produce similar data to back up his claims that increasing the cigarette tax would not reduce smoking cigarettes and produce Vermont with revenue that even state economists have projected.

“The governor wants real health care reform, but to do so, it needs to be comprehensive and that means addressing tobacco head-on,” said Rebecca Ryan, director of Health Promotion and Public Policy for the American Lung Association. “Vermont was a national leader in reducing the devastating impact of tobacco use, but the state’s investment in programs to prevent kids from smoking cigarettes and helping adults quit has been dramatically reduced over the last three years. In addition, the evidence is clear that increasing the price of a pack of cigarettes online is most effective at preventing kids from smoking cigarettes, Vermont has not had a significant increase since 2006 and the youth smoking cigarettes rate has not changed since 2005. By raising the price of a pack of cheap cigarettes by at least 10%, Vermont has a tremendous opportunity to reduce the youth smoking cigarettes rate and prevent future health care costs. Why wait?”