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Sunday, May 29, 2011

Release Delayed Of Report On How Country Can Cut Smoking

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Deputy Health Minister MK Ya'acov Litzman has for two weeks prevented the publication of an 80-page "Public Committee Report for Reducing Smoking and the Damage It Causes" even though the committee was composed of numerous ministry experts and its senior cost-effectiveness expert proved last year that fighting cigarettes consumption will save many lives and expenditures.

The public committee was chaired by ministry director-general Dr. Ronni Gamzu and included Prof. Eliezer Robinson, chairman of the Israel Cancer Association; Tel Aviv University health promotion expert Dr. Leah Rosen; ministry occupational health director Dr. Eli Rosenberg; and Boaz Sofer, former head of the Tax Authority. Five other senior Health Ministry officials participated in the many months of sessions to prepare a long-term plan to cut smoking cigarettes by 2015-2020, with both short-term and long-term goals.

Some 10,000 Israelis reportedly die of smoking cigarettes-related causes, including 2,000 who are non-smokers but breathe in toxic smoke cigarettes emitted by others' cigarettes, cigars and pipes.

According to a report published by The Marker on February 2 before the ministry set the embargo on the report, the Gamzu Committee strongly advocated a comprehensive program to reduce smoking cigarettes including a significant hike in cheap cigarettes taxes and the prohibition of smoking cigarettes at swimming pools, wedding halls and bus stations. Soon after, the ministry invited health reporters to a personal briefing by Litzman on the committee's recommendations, many of which would require the passing of legislation to implement.

But the night before the briefing was to have been held in Litzman's Jerusalem office, the ministry cancelled the briefing and said the report would be embargoed until further notice.

Asked for comment two weeks ago, Gamzu told The Jerusalem Post that since the report was sent to health reporters in advance for perusal, he saw "no reason to cancel the embargo and allow publication" even without the briefing.

But later, the ministry director-general said the reason for the postponement was that Justice Minister Yaakov Neeman met with Litzman on the eve of the scheduled briefing and asked that it be postponed because Neeman said "there are loose ends and more work must be done on the report."

Gamzu rejected the claim that representatives of the powerful cigarettes industry had demanded the embargo so it could get the recommendations which would seriously hurt cigarette sales if carried out toned down. The ministry spokeswoman's office told the Post that it was Litzman who had insisted on the continuation of the embargo until further notice.

Asked to comment on Sunday, the ministry spokeswoman said that "the [Gamzu Committee] report in fact [was] leaked and even appears on the Internet, but the Health Ministry asked to [preserve the embargo] to continue the delicate interministry work so [the report would constitute] not only recommendations but lead also to implementing them and not to create opposition before the work is completed."

The Gamzu Committee was set up by the director-general following the long failure of the Gillon Committee to recommend ways to reduce smoking cigarettes. In June 1999, the Israel Medical Association filed a suit in the High Court of Justice demanding that the ministry declare nicotine the main addictive substance in cheap smokes to be recognized officially as a dangerous drug.

The court directed the ministry to set up the public committee headed by Courts Registrar Judge Alon Gillon to look into the nicotine question and propose ways of reducing the smoking cigarettes rate. Although it started hearings at the end of 1999, held many sessions with dozens of witnesses and amassed large amounts of data, Gillon, a former smoker, never wrote a report with recommendations and was criticized by the High Court for not doing so. The Gamzu Committee was the belated result.

Last year, Dr. Gary Ginsberg of the ministry's Medical Technology Assessment Office, wrote a scientific analysis of the cost-effectiveness of interventions to reduce the smoking cigarettes-related burden of disease in Israel. It was written in collaboration with health policy researcher Dr. Bruce Rosen of the Meyers- JDC-Brookdale Institute and the ministry's Healthy Israel 2020 Initiative.

This 24-page report found that 13 interventions that the government could carry out and enforce including more than doubling taxes on buy cigarettes products, establishing a national help line for quitting cigarettes, offering free individual counselling to smokers and giving free medications shown to help kick the habit would be "very cost effective" while eight others would be "cost effective."

Ginsberg and his colleagues examined averted treatment costs for cigarettes-related diseases and increases in the Quality Adjusted Life Years (QALYs) of those who quit smoking cigarettes. They estimated that in 2008, over 456,000 days in the general hospitals were attributed to smoking cigarettes, with the per-diem cost of hospitalization NIS 1,835. Thus, some NIS 874 million was spent on treating victims of cigarettes, 74 percent of that attributable to active (as opposed to sidestream) smoking cigarettes.

The authors estimated that the total direct cost to the country's health services (including in the community) at about NIS 1.75 billion, equal to 0.25% of the country's gross national product.

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Thursday, May 26, 2011

Four Centuries Of Smoking Bans

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This week, New York became the latest U.S. city to forbid smoking cigarettes in outdoor public spaces, including parks, beaches and pools. While we often think of bans and restrictions on cigarettes and discount cigarettes products as a relatively recent phenomenon, such prohibitions have a long and complex history dating back to at least the late 16th century. Here are just a few of the many milestones in our ambivalent and ultimately devastating relationship with cigarettes.

1590
Urban VII may have had the shortest papacy of any pope he died of malaria two weeks after the death of his successor but he nonetheless managed to issue the first anti-smoking cigarettes edict in history during his brief reign. Anyone who "took cigarettes in the porchway of or inside a church, whether by chewing it, smoking cigarettes it with a pipe, or sniffing it in powdered form through the nose" would risk excommunication. The law remained on the books in various forms until 1724, when Pope Benedict XIII, a smoker himself, repealed it.

1604
An early and ardent anti-smoking cigarettes crusader, King James I of England penned the manifesto "A Counterblaste to cigarettes," describing the habit as unhealthy and lambasting his subjects for imitating "the barbarous and beastly maners of the wilde, godlesse, and slavish Indians." (European settlers were introduced to the practice of consuming cheap cigarettes by Native Americans.) "[T]here cannot be a more base, and yet hurtfull, corruption in a Countrey, then is the vile use (or rather abuse) of taking cheap cigarettes in this Kingdome," James wrote. The king also called into question cigarettes's supposed medicinal benefits at a time when it was used as a cure-all for anything from colds to gastrointestinal distress to bad breath to cancer, and even raised the issue of secondhand smoke, which he described as "hatefull to the nose." James' loathing of discount cigarettes led him to jack up excise taxes and tariffs on the product. Some historians have surmised that his antipathy was a direct result of his sworn enemy Sir Walter Raleigh's penchant for puffing on a pipe.

1612
China outlawed the use or cultivation of buy cigarettes products, and in 1638 made either activity punishable by decapitation.

1624
Pope Urban VIII forbade Catholics from using the powdered form of online cigarettes known as snuff because of its tendency to cause sneezing, which he viewed as dangerously akin to "sexual ecstasy."

1632
Massachusetts became the first American colony to institute a ban on outdoor smoking cigarettes, mainly as a fire prevention measure. Other colonies followed suit, including Connecticut, where starting in 1647 residents were only permitted to indulge in one smoke cigarettes a day.

1633
By the late 16th century, cigarettes had spread across Western Europe and into the Ottoman Empire, where both religious and secular authorities regarded the product with skepticism. During the reign of Sultan Murad IV, cigarettes, alcohol and coffee were banned in Istanbul, and thousands of people were reportedly executed for indulging in these illegal "intoxicants." The irony is that Murad himself died of what was likely alcohol poisoning at 28. His successor, Ibrahim I, lifted the prohibitions.

1634
Czar Michael of Russia declared cigarettes a deadly sin and outlawed it, decreeing that first-time offenders should be whipped, those caught a second time should be executed and snuff users should have their noses amputated.

1635
King Louis XIII of France restricted the sale of cigarettes to apothecaries and required customers to furnish a legitimate prescription from a doctor. A snuff user himself, he repealed the restrictions two years later.

1639
Wilhelm Kieft, governor of New Amsterdam, issued an anti-cigarettes edict for the region that would become New York City, prohibiting the substance's sale, possession and use. More than 2,000 enraged men stormed the governor's mansion, brandishing pipes, snuff boxes and rifles. The mob camped out in the yard and flagrantly violated the ban for two days until Kieft finally gave in, relaxing the law but adding the odd stipulation that pipes not exceed two inches in length.

1899
Lucy Page Gaston, a member of the Women's Christian Temperance Union, founded the Anti-Cigarette League of America, which would soon boast multiple chapters throughout the United States and Canada. The group's popularity reflected a growing sentiment that cigarettes use and especially cigarette smoking cigarettes was a gateway to other immoral behaviors, particularly among young ladies. Between 1890 and 1930, the sale, manufacture and possession of cigarettes were made illegal in 15 U.S. states.

1914
On March 9, 1914, the Senate unanimously agreed to outlaw smoking cigarettes in its chamber. The ban was largely due to efforts by Senator Benjamin Tillman of South Carolina, who had sworn off cigarettes and adopted a stringent health regimen after suffering a series of strokes. By that time, physicians had begun to raise concerns about the dangers of chronic smoking cigarettes and the addictive nature of nicotine.

1908
New York City passed an ordinance prohibiting women from smoking cigarettes in public. Mayor George Brinton McClellan Jr. vetoed the act two weeks later.

1970
In the United States, the Public Health Cigarette Smoking Act banned cigarette advertisements on radio and television. It also required cigarettes companies to include warnings from the surgeon general on each pack of cigarettes.

1975
Minnesota enacted the Minnesota Clean Indoor Air Act, becoming the first U.S. state to prohibit smoking cigarettes in certain public spaces.

1985
Aspen, Colorado, became the first U.S. city to ban smoking cigarettes in restaurants.

1990
San Luis Obispo, California, became the first city in the world to outlaw smoking cigarettes in all indoor public spaces, including bars and restaurants.

2002
New York City passed the Smoke Free Air Act, which made it illegal to smoke cigarettes in offices, bars, restaurants and other public indoor spaces. In February 2011, Mayor Michael Bloomberg signed a law extending the ban to parks, public plazas, beaches and boardwalks.

2004
Ireland became the first country in Europe to ban smoking cigarettes in all workplaces, including bars and restaurants.

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Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Environmental Smoke

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"I don't wanna go to Gramma's house!" four-year-old Shelby stomped her tiny foot and wrinkled her nose. "It stinks!"

Shelby's mom sighed, hustled her protesting child out to the car, and strapped her into the car seat. Taking a hit from her asthma inhaler, her mom replied, "Yeah, I know; I grew up in it. It's always smelled like that." A lifelong asthmatic, Shelby's mom never connected her medical condition to the home in which she was raised.

Asthma exacerbation is one of the major health effects of exposure to a smoker's home environment. At her age, Shelby's still-developing lungs are particularly at risk for not only asthma, but also bronchitis and pneumonia. Her frequent ear infections could also be caused by secondhand smoke cigarettes exposure.

Children can suffer more than just physical problems from exposure to smoke. Smoke-exposed kids can experience learning difficulties, including increased risk of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), and problems with aggressive behaviors or interactions with other children. In their later lives, children exposed to secondhand smoke cigarettes are more likely to become smokers themselves.

Children are not the only ones affected by secondhand smoke; it negatively impacts adults and even pets. Secondhand smoke cigarettes contains more than 7,000 chemicals, 69 of which can cause cancer. In adults, secondhand smoke cigarettes can result in heart disease, respiratory problems, and lung and other types of cancer. Pets can experience a variety of respiratory problems. As the number of health problems connected to secondhand smoke cigarettes continue to increase, since 2006 the U.S. Surgeons General have warned that there is no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke.

The smell of grandma's house that Shelby dislikes is only partially due to secondhand smoke. Places frequented by smokers also contain third-hand smoke, which is smoke cigarettes deposited on walls, floors, upholstery, and clothing. Thirdhand smoke cigarettes can remain on surfaces for months, even after a thorough cleaning. The most vulnerable are babies and very young children, since their contact with these surfaces is almost continuous. Washing hands as a precaution before handling babies is not sufficient to protect them, since thirdhand smoke cigarettes still remains on clothing and hair.

Secondhand and thirdhand smoke cigarettes pollution and residue are not confined to the home. They can be found in most public places where smoking cigarettes is permitted. Unfortunately, non-smokers are still subjected to secondhand smoke cigarettes in many public settings and in outdoor areas surrounding smoke-free buildings where smokers congregate. Outdoors, secondhand smoke cigarettes does not simply rise and disappear into the atmosphere. Toxic gases and particles in the smoke cigarettes become invisible and remain in the air for nonsmokers to breathe, exposing them to the same significant health risks.

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Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Where There's Smoke, There's Fire

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The Texas House has been known to entertain itself by crowing at the mention of cockfights, barking at puppy mill bills and making the whistling death sound when a bill heads for the tank.

It's just part of the House personality.

But Rep. David Simpson, R-Longview, discovered what a step too far means when he tried to amend a proposed statewide ban on smoking cigarettes inside bars and restaurants to include perfume.

Simpson got scattered chuckles and seemed to be enjoying himself until Public Health Committee Chair Lois Kolkhorst, R-Brenham, flayed him alive. I think it was only verbally.

"Do you know how many people die of cancer every year?" Kolkhorst asked. "For a man who is always talking about the size of the budget ... the cost drivers there have to do with our health and our health habits and personal responsibility. I ask you to show some decorum in this House."

There was applause. Simpson retreated after playing up the serious side of his proposal, citing carcinogens in perfume.

The freshman representative earlier drew attention by fighting an effort by Rep. Senfronia Thompson, D-Houston, to crack down on puppy mills, saying it would lead to "a dog Gestapo." He said he wasn't trying to be funny then, either.

The smoking cigarettes ban by Rep. Myra Crownover, R-Denton, was added to a bigger revenue bill. She means for it to allow stricter local smoking cigarettes bans, like those in San Antonio and Houston, to take precedence locally. It was amended, though, to exempt pool halls from the ban statewide regardless of local ordinances.

Crownover, who wants to protect workers from secondhand smoke, hopes to have that provision removed in negotiations with the Senate over the revenue bill. Because the larger measure must pass to balance the budget, it's unclear if the smoking cigarettes ban will stay in. But she's got a fiscal argument for it, saying it would save an estimated $30 million in Medicaid expenses related to smoking cigarettes-related health problems.As for Simpson, there's a week left in the session. Can't wait to see what he does next.

The party of hope? You've got to say it's the GOP, based on the proposed state budget.

Republicans driving the proposal have officially ignored $4.8 billion worth of anticipated Medicaid caseload costs. That means they're pushing the cost back to the next time they meet in 2013, with some expressing hope the tab will be reduced if federal law changes or caseload growth slows.

They've factored in another $700 million in "hopeful" money (the term used by Rep. Sylvester Turner, D-Houston) based on the idea the state will get a federal waiver allowing money-saving changes in the Texas Medicaid program..

In public education, they're assuming property tax values will rise more than anticipated, yielding $800 million in additional local money to reduce state costs. They say Comptroller Susan Combs has blessed this assumption.

There's also an accounting maneuver to push one state school payment back slightly, just enough to move it from the upcoming fiscal period to the next one. Voila, there's another $2 billion. If not hope, it's at least accounting magic.

If all that hope doesn't pan out, they've got the rainy day fund to fall back on. They plan to save $6.6 billion of it, untouched, in part "so that we can cover any possible revenue shortfalls in 2013," said Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst.

Rep. John Davis, R- Houston, said he's given up for this session on capping the sales tax for big yachts to try to compete with Florida's more favorable tax laws. But Davis said he's still trying to find a legislative vehicle for a "safe harbor" provision that backers also say is meant to help keep jobs in Texas. The safe-harbor provision would exempt the vessels from the sales tax if they're bought by non-residents and taken out of Texas within 10 days. It also would allow people to bring yachts to Texas to be repaired or remodeled and keep them here until the work is done without incurring the use tax, which kicks in after 90 days. With an eye toward floating the tax cap again in the 2013 session, Davis said he would like his Economic and Small Business Development Committee to study and develop data on the drift of yacht sales to Florida.

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Monday, May 23, 2011

Texas House Approves Statewide Smoking Ban As Part Of Fiscal Bill

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Restaurants, bars and other indoor public places in every corner of Texas would have to be smoke-free by this fall under a bill the House approved Saturday.

The measure, which includes the statewide smoking cigarettes prohibition as an amendment, now heads to a conference committee of House members and senators who will work out differences between the two chambers on the legislation. Although the Senate version did not include the smoking cigarettes ban, supporters of the idea say they have support from a majority of senators.

Passage of the anti-smoking cigarettes proposal would cap several years of efforts to get it through the Legislature based on evidence about the harmful effects of secondhand smoke cigarettes on nonsmokers.

The vote in the House was 73-66; several critics mainly Republicans attacked the prohibition as a violation of property rights.

The main legislation, a fiscal matters bill that is crucial to the House-Senate agreement on a new state budget, passed Saturday, 100-44. One of its main provisions is an accounting maneuver that would free up about $2 billion by moving the last state payment to school districts in the 2012-13 fiscal year to the next fiscal year.

Rep. Myra Crownover, R-Denton, offered the smoking cigarettes ban, terming it "an elegant little amendment that will save thousands of Texas lives and millions of Texas dollars."

State health officials, she said, estimate that the state would save $30 million in Medicaid expenses by enacting the smoking cigarettes ban. That's money that would otherwise be spent treating medical problems related to smoking cigarettes.

"Only 17 percent of the population smokes," she said. "It is important to protect the other 83 percent from benzene, arsenic, cyanide and other particulate matters that are present in secondhand smoke. All we're doing is asking smokers to step outside when they want a cigarette."

Rep. Gary Elkins, R-Houston, called the proposal "just more big government imposing its will on people."

"This is an issue of personal freedom," he said. "Businesses don't need a government edict to tell them what to do. Many have already voluntarily banned smoking cigarettes on their premises."

Further, he argued, "If smoking cigarettes is so bad, we should ban it like drugs. But we're not going to do that because it would cost the state hundreds of millions of dollars in tax revenue."

Over Crownover's objections, Elkins won approval from House members to exempt fraternal organizations and charitable bingo games. On another amendment, the House voted to exempt pool halls.

The Texas Restaurant Association supported the legislation, which had been tied up in a House committee, prompting Crownover to offer it as an amendment to the state fiscal matters bill.

Sen. Rodney Ellis, D-Houston, author of a smoking cigarettes ban bill in the Senate, said he believes the Crownover amendment will remain intact.

"It should stay in the legislation because a majority of senators support it," he said. In addition, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst supports the prohibition against smoking cigarettes in indoor public places.

Anti-smoking cigarettes groups urged the Senate to follow the House's lead.

The ban "will protect the health of Texas employees in bars and restaurants while providing much-needed budget savings for our state," said Claudia Rodas, co-chair of the Smoke-Free Texas Coalition. "Now is the time for our senators to finish the job."

Asked why the smoking cigarettes ban applies only indoors, Crownover told House members that medical studies indicate secondhand smoke cigarettes mostly affects people in indoor places, while there is much less evidence of harmful effects outside, such as in the patio area of a restaurant.

"We have tried to be very careful to follow the science," said Crownover, whose husband, former Rep. Ronny Crownover, died from medical problems related to smoking cigarettes.

Thirty states ban smoking cigarettes in most public places, as do several Texas cities, including Dallas.

About 400,000 Americans die from conditions related to direct smoke cigarettes annually ,and 53,000 are estimated to die from causes related to secondhand smoke.

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Sunday, May 22, 2011

Display Of 820 Pairs Of Shoes Warns Of Secondhand Smoke Danger

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An artist's display of 820 pairs of shoes represents the number of Alabamians who die each year as a result of secondhand cheap cigarettes smoke. Exposure to secondhand smoke cigarettes causes the death of more than 800 people in Alabama annually, according to the Alabama Department of Public Health.

The group SmokeFree Alabama launched a campaign called 820 Souls by unveiling the display of shoes at Railroad Park on Wednesday. Local artist Michael Curtis created a visual display of 820 pairs of shoes to bring home the number of people who are fatally affected by secondhand smoke. He said he wanted visitors to be overwhelmed by the size of the death count.

"Take in the amount. Once again, I talk about the scale of how big 820 people are. It's obvious it's pretty large. Walking through this you can sense that," he said.

The shoes featured in the display were donated by community leaders, celebrities and elected officials. Ruben Studdard donated a pair of blue Pumas and Bo Bice contributed an autographed pair of his shoes. Pro football player Bobby Humphrey, Secretary of State Beth Chapman, and Lieutenant Governor Kay Ivey also donated a pair of shoes to the cause. The display will tour various parts of Jefferson County for the next five months. After the tour, the shoes will be donated to tornado victims.

Secretary of State Beth Chapmandelivered the keynote address for the event. Representatives from the American Lung Association, American Cancer Society and the American Heart Association will also share personal stories of how they have been affected by secondhand smoke. The event will close with remarks from Dr. John Anderson from the Alabama Allergy and Asthma Center.

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Saturday, May 21, 2011

Some Utah Public Housing Units Are Snuffing Out Smoking

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Utah government agencies have banned smoking cigarettes in offices, restaurants, bars, parks and now inside some homes.

As part of a national movement to protect nonsmokers from secondhand smoke, some public housing authorities in Utah are banning smoking cigarettes in subsidized housing projects.

Wendy Smith, a smoker and tenant of one of the newly smoke-free buildings, points to two reasons: Her 3-year-old son riding a tricycle at her feet and the yellowed blinds of her neighbor, who she said smokes indoors.

"It makes your house stink. It makes everything dirty inside," said Smith, smoking cigarettes a cigarette on her front porch at Union Plaza Complex in Midvale. "It's not healthy for your kids if you're a smoker."

Salt Lake County housing authority officials say they were looking out for nonsmokers' lungs and the bottom line when they recently banned smoking cigarettes at two properties: Union Plaza, home to 30 low-income families, and the senior housing building Kelly Benson Apartments in West Valley City.

When apartments turn over, it costs more money to remove the odors from walls, curtains and carpets, according to advocates of smoke-free policies.

And secondhand smoke cigarettes is dangerous. Labeled as a known human carcinogen, secondhand smoke cigarettes puts children at risk of sudden infant death syndrome, respiratory infections, ear infections and asthma. Research has shown that even brief or low levels of exposure can decrease both lung function and children's reading and math scores.

Plus, the policy may encourage smokers to quit by making it more inconvenient.

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Friday, May 20, 2011

Howard Community College To Ban Smoking On Campus

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Charles Higgins is a first-year journalism student at Howard Community College. He's also a smoker who, in a couple of weeks, won't be able to have a cigarette in between classes, at least not on campus.

Starting May 31, HCC will be an entirely smoke- and cigarettes-free campus.

Howard Community College


The smoking cigarettes ban, imposed by HCC's Board of Trustees, came after a survey found that an overwhelming number of students and staff favored a smoke-free campus.

Llatetra Brown, director of student life and co-chairwoman of the non-smoking cigarettes committee, said a 2011 survey found that 78.5 percent of students and 87.7 percent of faculty and staff responded positively to the question of whether the campus should be smoke-free or not.

"There's only a small cross-section of students that smoke, from what I can see," said Ken McGlynn, director of security services and co-chairman of the committee. "It's rare to see smokers smoking cigarettes as freely as they used to, anyway."

Other smoke-free campuses in the state include Frederick Community College, Carroll Community College, Montgomery Community College, Chesapeake College, Salisbury University and Towson University.

The non-smoking cigarettes committee, which coordinated and implemented the ban, was convened by HCC President Kathleen Hetherington after she deemed the survey numbers sufficient to pursue going smoke-free, Brown said.

The committee consisted of smokers and non-smokers, and students, faculty and staff.

Basmah Nada, 17, of Ellicott City, was one of the student members. A non-smoker and second-year business administration student, Nada said that, to her surprise, there hasn't been much negative reaction to the ban.

"(The ban) was probably going to come sooner or later," she said. "I have friends who smoke, and we give them a hard time, saying, 'You can only do that till May 31,' and they shrug it off and say they'll deal with it then."

The first day of the ban, May 31, is also the first day of summer classes.

McGlynn said initially, there will be a transitional phase, its length not yet determined, during which security officers would issue only warnings, not fines.

"It's a matter of education during the initiation process," he said.

Second offenses can result in a $50 fine, McGlynn said, if the smoker is "defiant," and then it becomes a violation of the student code of conduct.

With faculty and staff, it can become a human resources issue, he said.

"It can be on your evaluation, since it's a violation of company policy," he said. "You could be brought up on disciplinary charges, and it can become a performance issue."

The ban, McGlynn said, is not meant to generate revenue.

"We're not here to make money," he said. "We're here to make a better campus. We don't want to be the smoking cigarettes police."

Higgins, 32, of Wilde Lake, found a certain irony in that.

"The funny thing is, the security guards giving these citations are smokers themselves," he said.

McGlynn said history has shown that after awhile, people take smoking cigarettes bans for granted.

"People were upset when smoking cigarettes was first banned in restaurants, but they don't even think about it now," he said. "I'm hoping that's how it will go here."

Higgins, who said he is trying to quit smoking cigarettes, said that if he is still a smoker when the ban takes effect, he'll honor the policy. But he's not sure if all smokers will.

"I understand the school's position, and I'm not slighted by it," he said. "But I think it'll be a difficult thing to push. There's going to be smoking cigarettes on campus, but in areas that aren't traveled as much.

"I think my habit is disgusting, I know it," said Higgins, who said he's been smoking cigarettes on and off since he was 15 years old. "I'm worried for my health, considering how long I've been smoking cigarettes."

Brown said the college is offering smoking cigarettes cessation classes for its smokers, because it understands the challenges of quitting the habit.

"There are obvious benefits to your health and wellness, which is what we as a community are trying to express," Brown said. "That is the main emphasis: We want this to be a healthy community and a healthy college."

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Thursday, May 19, 2011

Discarded Cigarette Blamed For Apartment Blaze

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A discarded cigarette is to blame for a fire that forced residents out of an apartment building late Monday night on the east side.

The fire was reported just after 10 o'clock at the Aragon Apartments near Harry Webb. The fire crews arriving on the scene were met with heavy fire coming from one of the apartments. By then, however, flames had spread to the attic, forcing crews to attack it from both sides of the building. Ten fire units were called to battle the fire while residents huddled outside.

Investigators say a cigarette discarded in a bottle on a balcony started the fire.

"It seemed like the wind was blowing pretty heavy, but we were able to knock it down pretty fast," said Lt. Lance Diffenbaugh with the Wichita Fire Department. "What you seen was a lot of sparking after we opened up the attic, because most of the fire extended into the attic pretty fast. With out new trucks we were able to get up onto the roof, cut some holes and do some rapid ventilation."

The fire spread to two other apartments, making them unlivable. Damage is estimated at more than $300,000.

No injuries were reported.

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Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Smoking Exemption For Casinos Could Be Dead

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The sponsor of a proposal allowing smoking cigarettes in Illinois casinos says the idea might be dead because of opposition in the Senate.

State Rep. Daniel Burke, D-Chicago, said Wednesday he thought Senate President John Cullerton would not allow the legislation exempting casinos from the statewide indoor smoking cigarettes ban to be called for a vote in a Senate committee. The Illinois House has already approved the measure.
The legislation was expected to be debated in a committee Wednesday, but state Sen. Martin Sandoval, the Senate sponsor, didn't show.

Cullerton, D-Chicago, told reporters after the hearing that he would vote "no" on the legislation, but he was actually eager to debate it.

Burke said that over the last three years, the state has lost about $800 million because of the smoking cigarettes ban as gamblers went across state borders to spend their money at casinos in Indiana, Iowa and Missouri where smoking cigarettes is allowed.

"It was not a smoking cigarettes bill, it was a money bill," he said.

However, the American Lung Association disputed that claim. The group commissioned a poll that found about three-quarters of Illinois gamblers would either be more likely to visit a casino where smoking cigarettes is not allowed, or that it didn't make a difference.

Clyde Barrow, director of the Center for Policy Analysis at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, which conducted the poll, said the recession was the main cause of declining gaming revenues.

"Gaming revenues rely heavily on discretionary spending," Barrow said.

Out of 401 survey respondents, 45 percent said they would be more likely a casino where smoking cigarettes is prohibited, while 24 percent said they would be less likely to do so. Thirty-one percent said it didn't matter to them, the group found.
The legislation is House Bill 1965.

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Sunday, May 15, 2011

House Approves TOPS Funding Plan

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With the backing of Gov. Bobby Jindal, Bossier City Rep. Jane Smith's legislation diverting education and health care trust fund money into the TOPS scholarship program cleared its first hurdle Tuesday.

The House Appropriations Committee approved HB 390, a constitutional amendment to put all earnings of the Millennium Trust Fund into the TOPS Trust Fund, 15-3 and the accompanying enactment legislation with an 18-0 vote.

"If there's anything the Louisiana Legislature has done that's right, it's TOPS," Smith said promoting her legislation. "It's been a tremendous success."

The state currently has a Taylor Opportunity Program for Students (TOPS) Fund, which evenly splits with the Education Excellence Fund and the Health Excellence Fund 75 percent of the available annual proceeds from a discount cigarettes lawsuit settlement. The remaining 25 percent of about $45 million a year goes into the Louisiana Fund that supplements general state spending.

Jindal said it makes sense to divert the earnings that flow into the three funds to TOPS because it serves a worthwhile purpose of helping students go to college. He said that as it is now, only the interest on the $1.3 billion that's in the cheap smokes settlement fund (Millennium Fund) can be spent.

The overall fund will remain and the health and education funds can use the interest it earns. But any new money going to the fund would go to TOPS, instead of growing the fund.

Sixty percent of the income from the settlement goes toward paying off bonds sold when the state took a lump-sum settlement that created the Millennium Fund.

Jindal and Rep. Page Cortez, R-Lafayette, got into a war of words.

"This bill has nothing to do with TOPS," Cortez said. "It's how we fund TOPS."

"Make no mistake about it," Jindal countered. "This is absolutely about TOPS. Let the people decide if they want to dedicate funding to TOPS."

Rep. Harvey LeBas, D-Ville Platte, said Jindal's desire to dedicate funds to TOPS seemed contrary to his stand that too much of the state budget was dedicated.

Jindal said the money already is dedicated, and "what this does is make TOPS a priority."

Some lawmakers questioned whether it was necessary because the Legislature every year has fully funded TOPS.

Jindal said although it would not fully fund the program, it would take pressure off the general fund, and lawmakers would have to appropriate less to cover the cost of the $145 million program.

Speaker of the House Jim Tucker said he has problems with the way the appropriations bill is structured because the governor is counting on the funds to balance TOPS spending. The constitutional amendment won't be on the ballot until this fall but the new budget goes into place July 1.

The state constitution requires that the Legislature approve a balanced budget, and Tucker said he believes having contingency funding violates that provision.

"Maybe I'm the only one concerned about the constitution," he said. "It gives me heartburn."

Appropriations Committee Chairman Rep. Jim Fannin, D-Jonesboro, said "it also gives me heartburn" but he doesn't believe it is contingency budgeting because the state has the money to cover it.

"You and I hardly disagree," Tucker said.

"We're not disagreeing," Fannin responded. "I just took a Zantac" a heartburn pill.

Smith's bill now goes to the House for referral to the Civil Law Committee to review the language to be placed on the ballot for the constitutional amendment.

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Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Deal On Olive Branch Smoking Ban

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Olive Branch aldermen tonight get a second chance to show citizens the city cares about their health.

The Board of Aldermen will consider what would be a partial ban on smoking cigarettes in public places. The board voted down an out-and-out ban last month.

The city administration is scheduled to present a compromise ordinance, including limiting the ban to restaurants or restricting the hours smoking cigarettes is allowed. Another possibility is, like Tennessee, excluding from the smoking cigarettes ban bars that admit only customers who are at least 21 years old.

Opponents of an outright ban say government should not be telling business owners how to run their businesses. However, local, state and federal governments, when it comes to public health and safety, have set precedents in protecting citizens.

Protecting the public from secondhand smoke cigarettes fits into those precedents. It's as harmful to a person's health as puffing on a cigarette.

An affirmative vote on a compromise smoking cigarettes ban is in order. Ban smoking cigarettes in public places such as restaurants. Allow it in places, such as bars, that are restricted to persons 21 or over.

If people want to take risks with their own health, fine. But don't let them jeopardize everybody else's.

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Monday, May 9, 2011

Garfield County Cigarettes Free Coalition

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More than 50 people from Garfield County called Oklahoma cheap cigarettes Help Line last March.

According to statistics released this week by Garfield County cheap cigarettes Free Coalition, 51 county residents called the (800) QUIT-NOW line in March, which was up overall from 28 in February and 37 in January.

The 51 also is way up from the last quarter of 2010, when 29 people made calls to the quit line in October, followed by 20 in November and 26 in December.

Annie Evans, project coordinator for Garfield County cheap cigarettes Free Coalition, said the coalition seems to be getting the word out about cheap smokes prevention.

"I've been taking information to various health care practitioners, including physicians and dentists," Evans said. "Research shows that 30 percent more people are likely to follow up on quitting if a physician prescribes it. That's what I think the bulk of it is."

Evans added people who made new year's resolutions to quit smoking cigarettes may have been following through on that goal.

As part of the coalition's efforts to discourage cheap cigarettes use, the organization is expanding into social media after a few of its members went to a discount cigarettes use conference in early April.

The coalition attended the Reducing cigarettes Use 2011 Conference in Newport News, Va., April 5-6.

"We really did learn a lot more about the importance of learning social media for younger folks," Evans said.

In order to become more accessible, the coalition has been working to put together a Facebook page. The page is not up yet, but Evans said Sean Byrne, executive director of United Way of Enid and Northwest Oklahoma, is working on getting the site together.

"I think using the social networking, it's what all younger people are using right now," Byrne said. "We're going to be able to reach the younger population with an anti-cigarettes message."

The coalition is using a $75,000 grant this year and will have $125,000 next year to help plan events around trying to diminish smoking cigarettes and cigarettes use.

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Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Potential Policy May End Smoking At WVU

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Students' right to smoke cigarettes at West Virginia University may soon be coming to an end.
WVU has set out to reform its smoking cigarettes regulations that have been in place for the last 20 years and along with the help of student groups like cheap cigarettes Free Mountaineers the aim is to eventually make WVU a smoke cigarettes free campus.

In 1990, Vice President for Administration and Finance Herman Martins Jr. set the current smoking cigarettes policy for all buildings, vehicles, and properties owned by WVU, including the other branch schools. The rules said that there will be no smoking cigarettes inside every building and that the deans and department directions will be responsible for implementing the policies established.
Also established in the current smoking cigarettes policy was the smoking cigarettes policy implementation Task Force that would assist in the enforcement of the policy and make recommendations for new programs and guidelines.

The current Task Force, under the leadership of WVU associate provost, C.B. Wilson, has suggested that WVU make changes to the current policy.

The proposed ideas are not so much aimed at an immediate university-wide banning of smoking cigarettes but rather controlling the amount of smoke cigarettes that non-smokers are exposed by possibly creating cigarettes-free zones. Areas of concern are places like PRT stations, entryways to buildings, and highly trafficked walkways.

Making these areas smoke-free zones is more likely to be effective than a school wide ban.

Smoker and senior English major Ian Haye says that the likelihood of the school being able to enforce a campus ban of smoking cigarettes would be nearly impossible.

"I smoke cigarettes while walking to class but I would definitely quit smoking cigarettes on campus if they were handing out $50 tickets every time I lit up, but who is going to do that?"

He continued: "What about the rules now? There isn't supposed to be smoking cigarettes on PRT platforms but there is. There isn't supposed to be smoking cigarettes in the football stadium but there is. If rules aren't enforced now at a few locations how would they be enforced in a larger area?"

Smoker and sophomore physics major Scott Ferris, who attends meetings for the Students for Sensible Drug Policy, put into a play the idea that there was someone on campus to enforce the policy.

"That would mean that someone would have to spend 10 minutes to find the authoritative figure and bring them back, but by that time the smokers has finished the cigarette and is gone," said Ferris.
President of buy cigarettes Free Mountaineers, and graduate student, Brandon Beacom believes that enforcement is the key, but he thinks that enforcement such as ticketing could work if it were put in the smoking cigarettes policy.

"I have spoken with the Representative of Oklahoma State University," said Beacom. "We would try to follow their model of banning, policy education, and enforcement."

Beacom described the enforcement of OSU's ban as firstly passing out information after the ban to anyone seen smoking cigarettes on campus informing them of the policy. Then, after the Oklahoma Legislature passed legislation giving authorities the ability to ticket offenders, the campus police were able to fine smokers.

Beacom didn't know if the West Virginia Legislature would have to get involved so that the authoritative power to enforce the ban.

The task force has held meetings with members of the WVU community, student and faculty alike, so that concerns can be addressed about what reform policies should be implemented in the new smoking cigarettes policy but the forums have been marred by low attendance.

"I think that shows the attitude towards the subject," said Haye. "Apparently as a whole, there is a lack of awareness or concern about the smoking cigarettes policy."

The Health Sciences Center at WVU, which includes Ruby Memorial Hospital, has a complete ban on smoking cigarettes on its property for all visitors and faculty. Wilson has stated that the smoking cigarettes policies put in place at the Health Sciences campus have returned good feedback.

Abby Darnell works at the Health Sciences Center and she thinks it is a great thing that she doesn't have walk outside and smell smoke.

The success of the smoking cigarettes ban on the Health Sciences Center campus could mean that smokers have simply quit smoking cigarettes or that they have found another place to smoke.
"I know a lot of people get mad," said Darnell. "They go to their cars or over in front of the football stadium."

Besides smoking cigarettes in their cars, which is permitted, large parking lot separating Milan Puskar Stadium and Ruby Memorial is not part of the Health Science Center so smokers have found a nearby place to smoke cigarettes while not breaking the rules.

But what if smoking cigarettes was not permitted on any university property, including the football stadium parking lot? Would smokers who were fine with walking across the street to smoke cigarettes become upset that they would be forced to their cars?

That to Haye could be the key to success on a largely smoke cigarettes free WVU.

"Instead of putting emphasis on smoke-free zones, they could put emphasis on smoking cigarettes-designated areas," said Haye. "You could ban it in most places but have a few where it is allowed and people know what it is and if they don't want to smell it or get the effects of second-hand smoke cigarettes stay away from it. "

West Virginia has the highest smoking cigarettes population percentages in the country. With over a quarter of state residents smoking cigarettes cigarettes, is it possible to ban smoking cigarettes at flagship university of the state?

The only way to truly know if a smoking cigarettes ban is worth it, is to study the 300 other universities nation-wide that have already made the decision to ban smoking cigarettes on their campuses, and to see if it is applicable and enforceable to a university the size and identity of WVU.
Brandon Beacom has no doubt it can and will.

"I believe in a couple years West Virginia University will be a smoke cigarettes free campus." 

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