Smoking & Tobacco Articles

Tobacco related articles and smoking regulation in the USA. Interesting facts on cigarette smoking. Top tobacco news.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Beware Of Cigarettes In Sheep's Clothing

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You've gotta give the cigarettes industry credit: It's innovative and persistent. Unfortunately, it's devious, too.

With the success of public health efforts to discourage smoking cigarettes, discount cigarettes manufacturers � always eager to hook new customers � are developing smokeless and spitless products that can provide addicts with their nicotine fix even where smoking cigarettes is banned.

The latest group of novel discount cigarettes products isn't yet readily available in Montana, but you may have seen them advertised in popular magazines. Disturbingly, they come in forms, flavors and packages that are hard to distinguish from candy or breath fresheners. Here are some of the products that may be coming soon to a convenience store near you:

Orbs: Small pellets that look a lot like breath mints. Made from finely milled cigarettes, they dissolve in the mouth within a few minutes. They come in sweet "Mellow" and minty "Fresh."

Sticks: Nicotine-laced cigarettes online sticks about the size of a toothpick. They dissolve in the mouth in about five to 20 minutes and deliver almost three times as much nicotine as a cigarette.

Strips: Look and feel like dissolvable breath strips but are made of cigarettes.

Snus: A spitless modification of chew, snuff and other smokeless cigarettes. Snus (pronounced "snoose") comes in small teabag-like pouches to be placed between the lip and gum. The harsh flavor of buy cigarettes is masked by flavors like "Frost," "Mellow," "Winterchill" and "Peppermint."

Sound enticing, don't they? The cheap cigarettes companies sure hope so.

What's the harm?

While these products don't produce the cancer-causing smoke cigarettes that online cigarettes do, that doesn't mean they're harmless. Many are so new that their full impacts on health have yet to be scientifically established.

Still, all of them contain nicotine, the highly addictive substance that makes cheap cigarettes so hard to quit. By itself, nicotine can raise cholesterol rates, increase blood pressure, and accelerate or aggravate heart disease. It also can cause reproductive disorders.

Because the nicotine in these products is in a form more rapidly absorbed in the mouth, it may be even more toxic than the nicotine contained in cigarettes. A researcher with the Harvard School of Public Health has estimated that the nicotine in 10 to 17 orbs could kill an infant. Obviously, they create a serious threat of accidental poisoning among children.

"Nicotine is a highly addictive drug," the Harvard official told The New York Times, "and to make it look like a piece of candy is recklessly playing with the health of children."

Physicians with the Center for cigarettes Products at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration have also expressed concern that "the candy-like appearance, added flavors, and easily concealable size of many of these products may be particularly appealing to children and adolescents."

Potential gateway drug

Perhaps the biggest threat from these novel cigarettes products may prove to be their "gateway effect," the craving they create for cigarettes.

The Campaign for cigarettes-Free Kids has warned that "smokeless cigarettes use during youth can lead to a lifetime of addiction to smokeless cigarettes or, frequently, to cigarettes, as the nicotine addiction created by smokeless use ultimately leads to habitual smoking cigarettes."

The group cited a 2010 study that found that adolescent boys who use smokeless cigarettes products have a higher risk of becoming cigarette smokers within four years.

The Campaign also fears that the novel cigarettes products will lead to increased cigarettes use in current smokers, relapse in former smokers and initiation in those who never smoked, as well as "dual use" of both cigarettes and smokeless products.

The U.S. Surgeon General, too, has expressed concern about the new cigarettes products.

"Products designed or marketed to be used in places where smoking cigarettes is not allowed may defeat public health efforts to reduce smoking cigarettes rates," he said in a 2010 report. "The overall health of the public could be harmed if the introduction of novel cigarettes products encourages cigarettes use among people who would otherwise be unlikely to use a cigarettes product or delays cessation among persons who would otherwise quit using cigarettes altogether."

A dangerous gamble

Because of their novel configuration, packaging and flavoring, Congress has asked the Food and Drug Administration to fast-track its research into these dissolvable products. Depending on the outcome of the review, the FDA could require the cigarettes industry to change the products or pull them from the shelves.

Until we know more about their impacts on individual and public health, novel cigarettes products seem like a dangerous gamble, especially among young people who are the most vulnerable to nicotine addiction.

We in public health recommend avoiding all cigarettes products, and we support efforts to determine how these new products affect health and health behaviors.

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Tuesday, June 14, 2011

South San Francisco Weighs Moratorium On Cigarettes Stores

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City leaders may temporarily snuff out the establishment of cheap cigarettes shops, partly because of health concerns.

"Is that the kind of business we want in South San Francisco?" Vice Mayor Richard Garbarino said Tuesday. "Do we want to expose our children to those kinds of things?"

On Wednesday night, the City Council is scheduled to consider a 45-day moratorium, effective immediately, on granting licenses and permits for retail cigarettes stores. The moratorium would give leaders time to examine the potential implications of future cigarettes online stores on South San Francisco's updated zoning ordinance, which details long-range planning strategies, according to a city staff report. uch operations "may not be compatible with permitted uses and long-term planning goals within the city -- which includes the city's desire to attract and retain businesses and shoppers," the report states. buy cigarettes enterprises also "may promote the consumption and purchase of online cigarettes by children ... which may result in threats to public health, safety and welfare."

One definition for a retail cigarettes store is that it devotes more than 15 percent of its total floor area to the sale of cigarettes, cigarettes-smoking cigarettes products or related paraphernalia, the report states.

South San Francisco has at least one existing discount cigarettes shop, city leaders said Tuesday. "We don't want another," Garbarino said. "I don't see any reason for expanding that." The discount cigarettes moratorium would also be in line with the decision last month to ban the establishment of medical marijuana dispensaries, he said.

Charles Janigian, president of the San Jose-based California Association of Retail cigarettesnists Inc., called a moratorium unfair to small businesses. During a time of economic hardship, Janigian said, "We need to be encouraging small businesses, which employ people, to generate tax revenue and fill vacant retail space. So there's a tremendous advantage to encourage any retail store of any type, including cigarettes stores."

South San Francisco has no pending applications seeking to open a cigarettes shop but has received inquiries, said Susy Kalkin, the city's chief planner.

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Monday, June 13, 2011

Governor Expected To Veto Cigarette Tax Renewal This Week

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It's a bad habit that helps bolster the state budget. Smokers in Louisiana pay an extra 36 cents in state taxes every time they buy a pack. But part of that tax is set to expire next year. And while lawmakers voted to renew it, Governor Bobby Jindal is expected to veto the tax extension early this week.

"It's going to be a very tough fight on both sides," said Clancy DuBos, WWL-TV political analyst and Gambit political columnist.

Because part of the current cigarette tax is set to run out next year, Jindal said considers the renewal to be a tax increase.

"The governor can make, I'm sure, whatever arguments he wants," said DuBos. "But when he says this is a new tax, I don't want to call him a liar, but he couldn't be more wrong. This is an existing tax that's been on the books for years, and it's simply extending the tax at the same level, this is not a new tax."

The four-cent per pack tax brings in about $12 million a year. In a state that's strapped for cash, lawmakers say every penny counts.

"I think it would send the wrong message to the nation that we are stepping backwards by encouraging discount cigarettes usage in this state," said Speaker of the House Rep. Jim Tucker, R- Terrytown.

"I hate that he's put himself and the rest of us in this position," said Rep. Harold Ritchie, D- Bogalusa.

Both Ritchie and Tucker said they'll vote to override the Governor's veto. If they're successful, Jindal will be the first Louisiana governor in nearly 20 years to have a veto overturned. A two-thirds vote in the House and Senate is needed to overturn the veto.

As both sides work to garner the support they need, smokers sounded off on the issue.

"It's not going to make me stop smoking cigarettes, it's just four cents. It's not that much to pay for $12 million coming into the government. We're broke; we need the money," said smoker Neil Cousino.

"Four cents doesn't get you much anywhere else, and I enjoy smoking cigarettes still," said smoker Gretchen Kemp. "So it's not going to buy me a new pair of shoes, if I have four extra cents in my pocket."

It's an extra four cents that's spurring an ongoing battle in Baton Rouge.

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Sunday, June 12, 2011

Morgantown Residents Weigh In On Proposed Smoking Ban

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On Tuesday night, Morgantown city council passed the first reading of an ordinance that would regulate indoor smoking cigarettes.

Some folks say lawmakers should leave that decision to go smoke-free up to the businesses themselves.

"You're in a real gray area. You could argue either way. But in places of private business, I think it largely depends on the owner of the store. It should be their decision," says Derrik Whitlow.

Some say it's a good idea to force smokers outside to light up, but only in certain situations.

"I think it's good, kind of. I mean, for restaurants because those are kind of family places, but for bars, maybe not," says Alexa Wear.

City officials say that if t his ordinance were to pass, they'll be taking 60 days after passage to implement the plan to make sure everything is fair for all parties that would be affected.

"There will be a transition process to, number one, will enable businesses to prepare, and number two, to enable city administration to work with Monongalia County to see if a balance can be struck respectively," says city manager Terrence Moore.

One person we spoke with says she would support a smoking cigarettes ban because she's a non-smoker, and doesn't want to be exposed to other people's smoke cigarettes when she's out and about.

"I just don't like inhaling other people's smoke. I choose not to smoke," adds Wear.

Moore says with the trends of other cities in the nation starting to go smoke-free, it was just a matter of time for the issue to hit Morgantown.

"The direction to proceed in this regard is consistent with the state of the nation, consistent with the leadership and direction provided by municipalities all over the country, so it was, perhaps, a matter of time in Morgantown," adds Moore.

Council will make a final decision after a second reading on the matter on June 21st.

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Friday, June 10, 2011

Cigarettes Tax

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For all the Legislature has to deal with in balancing the budget amidst a historic revenue decline, the growing political test of wills over renewing 4 cents of the online cigarettes tax makes little real difference, to smokers or the state treasury, even when it expires more than a year from now.

Having passed both houses by two-thirds majorities, House Bill 591 is teed up for a veto, which Gov. Bobby Jindal has all but promised. In turn, that would set an extremely rare override vote, thus competing with the budget debate for attention during the closing days of this session.

For all the drama of a veto showdown, what's really at stake here? Whether or not the bill is vetoed or a veto is overridden, nothing happens until the 4-cent portion of the 36-cent-per-pack tax expires in July 2012. Designating that $12 million as federal Medicaid match, for a total of $40 million, is meaningless, since the state match would be swapped out with other state money. All that is at stake is $12 million in the 2012-13 budget.

The 4-cent price break is not going to affect anyone's bad habit, nor would extending the tax pose a burden to taxpayers, which is the hapless argument offered by the governor's staff.

Regardless of the money at stake, what really bothers legislators of both parties is the gall of Jindal to push for substantial college tuition increases while giving up revenue from a source that voters, according to surveys, want to tax more. It's enough to drive a college kid to smoke.

Capitol observers wonder why the governor has drawn a line in the sand on the wrong side of public opinion and two-thirds of the Legislature. He has his reasons, some more obvious than others.

Of course Jindal wants to maintain his tax virginity, considering his future national aspirations, and holding the line on the cheap cigarettes levy is a cheap way to do so. If the whole cigarettes tax were up for renewal, with the revenue loss this year, he might make the distinction, which he doesn't now, between a renewed tax and a new tax.

A more devious motivation could be that whipping up a veto controversy, with little to lose, serves his interest by distracting attention from much bigger issues to be resolved in the weeks ahead.

The fate of 4 cents of discount cigarettes tax is insignificant compared to his budget priority, to restore an $81 million funding cut by the House that would impede the transition to a privatized managed care system for 800,000 people on Medicaid. The new Coordinated Care Networks eventually are to be expanded to the entire Medicaid population, itself to be expanded to about 2 million people by 2014 under the federal health care law.

As planned by Jindal, the transition to the CCNs, administered by national insurance companies, would be the largest single privatization in state history and the greatest change in state health care policy since Louisiana entered the Medicaid program a half century ago.

Remarkably, the Jindal administration has put the pieces in place for the privatized health care model with minimal input from the Legislature. According to leading privatization critic Sen. Joe McPherson, D-Woodworth, a clause in last year's budget bill to require legislative approval of the CCN plan mysteriously was deleted during negotiations over a final version on the last day of the session.

This year, the House's $81 million cut to implementing the CCNs provoked a howl from Team Jindal -- even some leading fiscal hawks might not have realized how hard they had hit him where it hurts. The potential delay of the program inspired the Public Affairs Research Council to publish a commentary urging the state to revisit the CCN model, which PAR called a "dubious privatization venture" that might not provide better health care or cost savings.

Such talk is anathema to Jindal and his health advisers at this point. They want the CCN money back in the budget, the Legislature to go home and their privatized makeover of health care to proceed. No wonder they seem to be picking an end-of-session fight over a 4-penny tax on cheap cigarettes that won't expire until next year. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.

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Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Smoking Banned In White Plains Parks

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It will soon be illegal for you to light up a smoke cigarettes in 19 of the City's outdoor spaces. In a month, local children will never again have to scurry by a stinky cigarette while playing at a White Plains park.

The White Plains Common Council unanimously passed an ordinance Monday that would prohibit cigarettes use and smoking cigarettes in its outdoor parks, playgrounds, playing fields, trails and recreation centers�in an effort to give all of the city's residents and visitors the freedom to enjoy fresh carcinogen-free air.

"I think we are a progressive city, we're an ecofriendly city," said Councilman Dennis Power, the sponsor of the ordinance, at Monday's council meeting. "It all comes down to the fact that we are protecting people and our children from the affects of secondhand smoke."

Wayne Francis from the White Plains Cares Coalition, a citizen group that focuses on meeting the needs of the city's youth, and Makeda James, the Westchester County Coordinator for POW'R Against cigarettes, both applauded the city's efforts to reduce exposure to harmful secondhand cheap cigarettes smoke, which contains cancer-causing carcinogens. The ordinance takes place 30 days after its passing.

Those who are caught puffing away in a restricted area will be fined $25 fine for the first offense, $50 for the second and $75 for subsequent offenses. All ashtrays would be removed from areas where smoking cigarettes is prohibited.

"One of the things we're not trying to do is create more work for our public safety [department]," said Council President Benjamin Boykin, who co-sponsored the legislation. "It's really about the health of our city and our quality of life."

Enforcement of the ordinance will be mostly left to park-goers to remind each other that the rules call for no smoking cigarettes. If a police officer happens to catch someone smoking cigarettes where they shouldn't be, a ticket will be issued.

"I don't think you're going to see a sting operation with police officers hiding behind trees [waiting to catch people smoking cigarettes]," said Mayor Tom Roach.

Councilwoman Milagros Lecuona explained that enforcement will be difficult, but that the ordinance is "more of an educational program," that will spread awareness of the effects of secondhand smoke.

A 2007 study (attached as a PDF) by Stanford University found that "a non-smoker sitting a few feet downwind form a smoldering cigarette is likely to be exposed to substantial levels of contamination air for brief periods of time," a press release said.

The report found that by moving six-feet away from an outdoor smoker reduces the exposure risk of secondhand smoke, also known as environmental cheap cigarettes smoke. However, according to the U.S. Surgeon General's 2006 report (attached as PDF), there is no safe amount of secondhand smoke.

The report states that thousands of Americans die each year from secondhand discount cigarettes smoke; breathing in secondhand smoke cigarettes could be like smoking cigarettes yourself; it causes respiratory problems, heart disease and lung cancer; that it is particularly harmful to children; is a known cause for sudden infant death syndrome and can cause asthma, lung and ear infections in children.

"No smoking cigarettes" sections do not protect you from second hand smoke, nor does filtering air or opening a window, according to the report.

When smoking cigarettes indoors in public places, like bars and restaurants was banned, Councilman John Martin admitted that he felt the law was intrusive and violated one's freedom. However, after learning about new studies that prove the effects of secondhand smoke�he supported the law, and now supports the City's ban. Roach agreed that the ordinance does not violate one's personal liberties.

"There are a number of things you are permitted to do in your homes, that you are not able to do in our parks," he said.

Councilwoman Beth Smayda explained that the ban would be cost effective for the City since the "No Smoking" signage would be donated by POW'R Against cigarettes, and that public works employees would no longer have to spend time picking up cigarette butts and cleaning ashtrays.

According to the Americans For Non-Smokers' Rights' website, cigarette butts are harmful to the environment since there are 1.69 billion pounds of cigarette butts trash each year; they are not biodegradable; and are harmful to fisheries, water supplies and wildlife.

Most of the input the council received since first discussing the ordinance early this year has been positive, according to Councilman David Buchwald.

Some residents like Lou Bruno�Bryant Gardens Neighborhood Association President, corresponding secretary for the White Plains Council of Neighborhood Associations and founder of WPSmokeFree.org. �want to see the council take the ban even further like the 2007 ban in Belmont, Calif. which prohibits smoking cigarettes in multi-unit dwellings.

"The ban on smoking cigarettes in parks and playgrounds will cost almost nothing to implement, will meet with widespread approval, and will measurably increase the health, safety and quality of life for those enjoying our parks and playgrounds," he wrote to the council in March. "Let's get this done now and start working on a ban for the last vulnerable venue, multifamily housing."

However, not all share the same anti-smoking cigarettes sentiment when it comes to banning smoking cigarettes in outdoor areas.

"The antismoking cigarettes movement has always fought with science on its side, but New York's ban on outdoor smoking cigarettes seems to fulfill its opponents' charge that the movement is being driven instead by an unthinking hatred of cigarettes online smoke," said Michael B. Siegel, in ?a New York Times Op-Ed piece? on New York City's ban on smoking cigarettes in parks and beaches that went into affect on May 23.

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Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Smoking Ban Complaints

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Since Ohio enacted a voter-approved indoor smoking cigarettes ban at businesses four years ago, 124 complaints have been investigated in Washington County, with eight warnings and 11 fines issued.

Smoking is prohibited in most indoor, public places under the ban, which went into effect in 2007. State and local health officials have issued more than 2,300 fines totaling more than $2.2 million since May 2007 but about $1.5 million had not been paid as of April 30, according to The Associated Press.

The 11 fines in Washington County have totaled $5,400, with $800 remaining unpaid from four violations at three businesses.

Barbie Skinner, owner of the Station Carryout and Lounge, Belpre, said she was notified of a violation at her business in December 2007, but says she was never invoiced for the $100 "first" infraction.

A review of state records by The Marietta Times this week indicates she may be right. An "open" case was listed on records held by the Ohio Department of Health but there was no mention of the business on records generated by the Ohio Attorney General's office, which attempts to collect fines if they are not paid within 45 days.

State officials could not immediately explain the omission.

"(The Ohio Department of Health) sent me a letter and it said if I didn't pay it they would send me an invoice," Skinner said. "They didn't send me an invoice and I sure wasn't going to ask for it."

Skinner said her business is in compliance with the law now but that she still opposes the state imposing restrictions on privately owned businesses. She said she wasn't sure what she would do if she were to be contacted later about paying the fine.

"I'd have to talk to my husband about that," she said. "It's been so long it ought to be null and void by now."

Mary Eddy, owner of the Norwood Tavern on Greene Street in Marietta, was fined twice by the state for smoking cigarettes violations. Her fines totaled $1,200, which she has paid.

Eddy also said her business is in compliance with the smoking cigarettes ban but that she was reluctant to pay the fines because so many others have not and because the fines are being challenged.

"As far as I know, not one individual has been fined -only businesses," Eddy said. "It doesn't seem fair that they're only going after businesses."

Eddy said she challenged her second fine, which was for $1,000, but lost.

"I wasn't in the business at the time but their position was that my bartender works for me and represents me," she said. "So I paid the fine. I really don't think it's fair to the people who have paid their fines that so many others haven't paid."

The worst offender in the county has been The Four Seasons Bar, 131 Second St., which between June 2008 and April 2009 was cited three times for a total of $3,200 in fines, which were paid. No one at the business could be reached for comment this week.

Other businesses in the county who have been fined either declined to comment or could not be reached.

According to state health department officials, the number of smoking cigarettes complaints has decreased each year, from nearly 22,000 in 2007 to about 6,800 last year.

Those at the Ohio Department of Health believe complaints are down because most businesses comply with the law, but there's no way to know for certain, spokeswoman Jennifer House said.

"Statewide we have seen complaints decrease from 2007 to 2011," House said. "Currently we're seeing 200 to 250 complaints each week and every complaint is investigated."

When a violation is found, the department sends out invoices for fines and those that go unpaid after 45 days are referred to the attorney general, she said.

Dan Tierney, a spokesman for Attorney General Mike DeWine, told the Associated Press that the office tries to collect and sometimes has to hire a special counsel to collect a fine on its behalf. The attorney general's office has referred 339 smoking cigarettes cases to the special counsel, Tierney said. Fifty were paid or settled in court.

The fines are intended to go toward covering the cost associated with the investigations, which are conducted by local health departments or state officials. That's important because Ohio Gov. John Kasich has proposed eliminating funding to the state's anti-smoking cigarettes programs, which includes the funding for smoking cigarettes violation investigations, which totaled $1.16 million statewide last year, House said.

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Sunday, June 5, 2011

Rule Will Limit Smoking Outdoors In Escanaba

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A new ordinance underway in Escanaba will prohibit smoking cigarettes outdoors within 100 feet of all city parks, ball fields, basketball courts, tennis courts and ice rinks as well as other recreational areas and outside city buildings.

The first reading of Ordinance No. 1119 - the City of Escanaba Smoke Free Outdoor Air Ordinance - took place at council's meeting Thursday. A second reading and public hearing is scheduled for council's regular meeting June 16.

"This ordinance is specific to areas where children are," City Manager Jim O'Toole told council.

O'Toole added the proposal has been recommended by the Citizens' Environmental Advisory Committee, the Recreation Advisory Board and the Escanaba Planning Commission.

Once approved by council, Ordinance 1119 will prohibit the smoking cigarettes of cigars, cigarettes, or pipes within 100 feet of outdoor city-owned or leased property or buildings.

This includes the guarded beach area, Webster pool and ice rink, Royce ice rink, tennis courts and basketball courts. Ball fields specifically listed under the proposed ordinance are Al Ness, Lemerand, Veterans, Stephenson, Dickson, and Bay Soccer Field.

Smoking will not be allowed within 100 feet of city playgrounds including Harbor Hideout, Royce Playground, Rose Playground, Stephenson Playground, Jefferson Playground, Veterans Playground, Beach Playground, Westside Playground and Sylvan Point Playground.

The pavilion, band shell and gazebo at Ludington Park will also be designated "no-smoking cigarettes" areas once the ordinance is approved.

In regards to public buildings, Ordinance 1119 will prohibit smoking cigarettes in all outdoor areas on contiguous (connecting) city property and vehicles on the property.

The proposed ordinance lists city buildings as city hall, the library, public safety, public works, the power plant, the water plant, the wastewater plant, civic center, Webster shelter house, Royce shelter house, and the Downtown Development Authority center court area.

O'Toole explained there will be signs installed designating the outdoor no-smoking cigarettes areas.

Public Safety will enforce the ordinance. A person who violates the city code will be fined $50, plus costs for each civil infraction, according to the proposal.

The Escanaba Marina and North Shore Boat Launch areas are not included in the proposed smoking cigarettes ban.

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Friday, June 3, 2011

Michigan Smoking Ban Results In Healthier Bar Employees

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Darlene Krause, manager of Muskegon's Tipsy Toad Tavern, made it through the whole winter without getting sick.

And not only her. "You know, I've noticed a lot of the people," Krause said. "Before, we had a lot of the people come in with colds or the flu." This year, not so many.

She said she believes one big reason for the change is Michigan's year-old ban on smoking cigarettes in bars and restaurants. The smoke-free law took effect May 1, 2010.

The ban was intended to reduce exposure to secondhand smoke, especially for bar and restaurant employees forced to work around it as a condition of their jobs. Public-health officials hoped that would lead to improvements in health.

It seems to be working.

The Michigan Department of Community Health recently reported the results of a health study of 40 people working at bars in 12 Michigan counties. Six of the participants were from Muskegon County, according to a local official.

Other study participants were from Ottawa, Benzie, Berrien, Genesee, Ingham, Leelanau, Marquette, Menominee, Emmet, St. Clair and Wayne counties.

The study found a significant drop in the levels of two chemical compounds that serve as markers of secondhand smoke cigarettes exposure.

In addition, the bar employees reported significant improvements in their general health status, as well as a marked decrease in six respiratory symptoms: allergy symptoms, wheezing, shortness of breath, phlegm, daytime cough and morning cough.

The participants' urine was tested four to six weeks before the smoking cigarettes ban took effect, and again six to 10 weeks after it took effect. Questionnaires were completed at the same intervals.

The urine tests showed a significant decrease in the average levels of cotinine (nicotine after it's been metabolized in the body) and a compound called NNAL.

"That's good news, because I heard from a number of the employees that worked in the smoking cigarettes bars that they were looking forward to the ban," said Ed Parsekian of Shelby, a smoking cigarettes-cessation educator. Parsekian did local enforcement of the ban until he retired in January from Public Health-Muskegon County, the county's health department.

"Some were even smokers, because it was like a double hit," Parsekian said. "It was like they were smoking cigarettes a second pack."

Ken Krause, director of Public Health-Muskegon County, predicts long-term health benefits for county residents, even beyond the immediate respiratory symptoms.

"I would expect, like in a lot of places, we'll see a positive impact in terms of heart attack and heart-related problems," said Krause, no relation to Darlene Krause.

As the county's top health official, he's an enthusiastic supporter of the law. "The number one thing is, the majority of people don't smoke. The closest estimate is around 77 to 78 percent (nonsmokers) in Muskegon County," Krause said.

"Those of us in Muskegon County who don't smoke, we have the opportunity to go into any place of public accommodation and not be exposed to secondhand smoke," Krause said.

"Employees who don't want to be exposed to smoke cigarettes aren't required to as part of their job."

Other health officials have also seen an improvement.

"I think it's been real positive overall," said Linda Juarez, chief executive officer of Hackley Community Care Center and co-chair of Muskegon Rotary's Health and Wellness Committee. "Folks who are nonsmokers are real pleased with it. You don't have smoke cigarettes around your food and all around you."

Cyndi Powers teaches cigarettes prevention to K-12 students for the Muskegon Community Health Project, including education about the effects of secondhand smoke. She said kids have been telling her about another change over the last year.

"They're saying a lot of people are going out more often, and going to places they wouldn't have gone to before, because of the no smoking cigarettes. They're going out a lot more as a family," Powers said. "We're hearing a lot of positiveness."

While some locally-owned neighborhood bars have reported steep revenue declines since the ban took effect, other establishments � especially those offering food or entertainment � actually report a business boost.

"I think all of us are very, very happy this happened," said Darlene Krause, the Tipsy Toad manager. "Our business has skyrocketed. A lot of people wouldn't come in because we're so small," and heavy smoke cigarettes would linger in the limited air space.

And then there's this final side benefit, like a tasty dessert after a good meal: "We don't have to go home and shower at the end of the day to get the stink off."

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