<< Back to all Blogs
Login or Create your own free blog
Layout:
Home > Archive: August, 2006
 

Archive for August, 2006

City moves to clear air

August 17th, 2006 at 03:50 am

http://www.adn.com/news/alaska/anchorage/smoking/story/8085222p-7977832c.html



Smokers have less than a year left to light up in Anchorage bars and bingo halls.

The Anchorage Assembly on Tuesday night voted to ban smoking in those places -- and in homes where a baby sitter is working -- in a long-debated, long-awaited decision Tuesday night.

The indoor-smoking ban, which goes into effect next summer, passed 8-3, with Debbie Ossiander, Dan Sullivan and Anna Fairclough voting against it.

"What we've tried to address is smoking in enclosed areas where there are employees," said Dan Coffey, one of the original sponsors of the law.

Ossiander, the Assembly's vice chairwoman and a registered respiratory therapist, said, "I'm very aware of the health impacts of smoke and what it can do to you." But, she said, she believes in individual responsibilities and freedom.

"I believe that we are overreaching in government regulations into people's lives," she said.

During the debate Tuesday night, Ossiander at one point rattled off a long list of high risk jobs, like commercial fishing, or jobs where employees are exposed to toxins, like dry cleaners.

"I don't believe government can make every job completely safe," she said.

Allan Tesche, in his first Assembly meeting since emergency heart surgery in May, said it was cynical to say the Assembly can't make all work places safer.

"If we pass this ordinance, we are going to make work places safer," Tesche said just before the final vote. "That we can't do a perfect job is no excuse."

Tesche, countering the argument for personal freedom that was raised often during discussion, said no constitution guarantees the right to smoke.

Smoking has been against the law in most public buildings, such as restaurants, offices and government offices, in Anchorage since 2001. The new law, which Coffey and Dick Traini introduced in May, aimed to outlaw smoking in some of the only public places smokers have left, with the intention of eliminating unwanted exposure to secondhand smoke.

Sullivan, the Assembly's chairman, said that six years ago the panel decided to exempt from the no-smoking rules places where adults go, and adults should be able to make the decision.

"Now we've decided that adults can't make their own choices," he said. There are also more places now where nonsmokers can find a job, he said.

The proposal drew crowds to Assembly meetings more than once. Hours of often passionate testimony pounded on persistent themes: Those fighting the ban said it was a government intrusion into personal freedoms and that it would kill bars and businesses that allow smokers. Those supporting it said secondhand smoke is unhealthy and employees of bars and businesses are unwillingly putting their lives in danger. And, supporters said, smoking bans elsewhere haven't dampened the bar business.

By postponing the start date until July 1, 2007, Traini and Coffey said they picked up the support of the Anchorage Chamber of Commerce.

Coffey said it was crucial to apply the no-smoking rule to all applicable businesses, offering no exemptions, so nonsmoking establishments wouldn't lose money to the smoking ones.

Restrictions already ban smoking in licensed day-care centers. Now the smoking ban extends to a less-formal baby-sitter arrangement in someone's home, so long as a sitter is getting paid, even if the care is for just one child.

Ossiander tried to delete the baby-sitter provision, with vocal support from Paul Bauer. They said it would be impossible to enforce and it's up to a parent to decide not to put their child in a smoker's care. Ossiander's amendment failed.

"What level of secondhand smoke is acceptable for children?" Traini said. "None."

The new law prohibits smoking within five feet of an entrance to a bar. Smoking would be allowed in the outdoor area of a bar, such as a patio or a deck, as long as it's done at least five feet from the door.

It bans smoking within 20 feet of city and school buildings and 50 feet of hospitals. It bans smoking within 20 feet of any place of employment, so smoke doesn't enter the building through a ventilation system or window.

Smoking in private clubs is only OK if the club is not licensed to sell alcohol, is not open to the public and is not a place of employment.

Fairclough tried unsuccessfully to exempt veterans and military clubs from the ban.

Fairclough also tried unsuccessfully to exempt bingo halls, provided the hall has an enclosed place with an extra ventilation system.

The list of exemption can go on and on, Coffey said. But he and others said they were adamant about providing a level playing field among businesses.

Tesche said employees of bingo halls are no different than employees elsewhere who are under the protection of the secondhand smoke law.

Tesche's life-threatening experience this spring didn't appear to take away his argumentative tendency, although he didn't speak as much as he has in previous meetings.

"This government will not let people die on their own when we can take a simple regulatory measure and say you can't smoke indoors, take it outside," Tesche said. "That is exactly what government should be doing."

"Welcome back, Mr. Tesche," Sullivan said.

Surgeon General gets smoked

August 17th, 2006 at 03:31 am

http://hot-cigs.com/news/August-15-2006/folder0/Surgeon-General-gets-smoked.1670.html



Perhaps there was nothing nefarious about the unusually quiet departure of Richard Carmona as U.S. surgeon general. With the ultra-secretive and business-friendly Bush Administration, personnel changes don't always go down as advertised.

Depending on which explanation you believe, Dr. Carmona either resigned as head of the federal Public Health Service or he was not reappointed by President Bush when his four-year term expired on July 29 - the equivalent of being fired.

Some sources indicated that Dr. Carmona was told that he would not be retained as surgeon general, but who ushered him out and the reason were not revealed by the hunker-in-the-bunker folks at the White House.
In any case, Dr. Carmona merits praise for at least one major health initiative: The recent report that labeled secondhand tobacco smoke for what it indisputably is - a deadly health hazard to millions of Americans.
The surgeon general's report validated the need for a comprehensive statewide ban on smoking in public places, which we support and which Ohio voters are expected to decide in the Nov. 7 election.

As Dr. Carmona put it back in June, "I am grateful to be able to say unequivocally that the debate is over. The science is clear: secondhand smoke is not a mere annoyance, but a serious health hazard that causes premature death and disease in children and nonsmoking adults."

The declaration demolished the central claim of the special interests that oppose a smoking ban: that secondhand smoke is not hazardous to those forced to breathe it, whether as patrons or workers in public places.
Did Dr. Carmona's bold stand get him fired?

We wouldn't be surprised. After all, the business interests hard at work against a real smoking ban in Ohio are the same businesses routinely found on President Bush's list of influential campaign contributors.
They include owners of bars, restaurants, hotels, and bowling centers in the so-called hospitality industry as well as those that profit from tobacco sales, including the tobacco industry, grocers, liquor, beer, and wine wholesalers, and the oil industry.
This is the group that is promoting a misleading ballot issue with a disingenuous name: Smoke Less Ohio. It's a constitutional amendment which, if it makes the Nov. 7 ballot and is approved by voters, not only would not protect anyone but would institutionalize the presence of secondhand smoke in the lives of Ohioans by forever prohibiting a whole range of anti-smoking laws.

The genuine smoking issue headed for the ballot is an initiative law sponsored by SmokeFreeOhio, a public health coalition. It would institute a fair and uniform smoking ban in public places across the state.
In the meantime, Dr. Carmona is back in Tucson, pondering his future. The former trauma surgeon hasn't confirmed whether he was fired, but he did tell his hometown paper, the Arizona Daily Star, that he often felt frustrated in the federal post, especially "when science gave way to politics What was done was not always my decision."

Regardless of the circumstances of his departure, Dr. Carmona managed what few appointees of this laissez-faire administration have even attempted - to advance the cause of legitimate public health protection for the American people.

For that, he deserves credit.

Study Shows How Secondhand Smoke Injures Babies' Lungs

August 17th, 2006 at 03:16 am

http://www.news.ucdavis.edu/search/news_detail.lasso?id=7836



Quebec smokers are being left out in the cold, literally, by a recent provincewide ban on smoking in enclosed public places.

Not only has the new law, which came into effect May 31, forced bar and restaurant patrons outside for a cigarette, it seems some smokers are also having a hard time finding a place to live.

"There are more cases this year of people telling us they've been refused an apartment because they smoke," said Francois Saillant, head of Front d'action populaire en reamenagement urbain, a prominent local tenants' rights group.

Quebec's landlord association says some of its members have suddenly become interested in inserting no-smoking clauses into their leases.

"I think it's a result of the publicity surrounding the law preventing smoking in restaurants," said Martin Messier, president of the association.

"People are more concerned now about being in a non-smoking environment."

Messier says his association advises its members not to refuse smokers outright, but rather inform them they'll have to puff outside their apartment.

But Saillant claims landlords are taking advantage of the new law to give themselves more power in choosing their tenants.

"It's another restriction that for me is completely not justified," he said, noting especially that Montreal has low vacancy rates.

Bill 112, which was passed in concert with similar anti-smoking legislation in Ontario, forbids smokers from lighting up in bars and restaurants.

The sweeping restrictions also extend to the nine metres in front of any doorway leading to a health or social services institution, college, university or child-care facility.

Saillant believes landlords who discriminate against smokers are setting a disturbing precedent in their interpretation of the law and need to differentiate between public and private spaces.

"It's an extremely dangerous thing to get involved with, because now, quite clearly, we're messing with the private lives of people," he said. "That's not the business of the landlord."

Saillant even raised the possibility of smoking tenants using human rights arguments to challenge the decisions of their landlord.

According to the Quebec government, however, there is nothing in the new legislation that prevents landlords from inserting anti-smoking clauses into their leases.

Messier, for his part, maintains that only a relatively small percentage of landlords have so far insisted on smoke-free dwellings.

He adds that if prospective renters don't like it, they can always find somewhere else to live.

"It's not an intrusion into people's private lives," he said. "It's simply a condition that's prerequisite to the signing of the lease."

Mike Callaghan, who owns an apartment building in the southwest Montreal neighbourhood of St-Henri, admits it's often in the landlord's interests to weed out smokers.

"I would prefer (non-smokers) because it's definitely harder on an apartment when you get, especially, a heavy smoker," he said. "The walls can really take a beating."

But smoking alone isn't enough for Callaghan to turn a potential tenant away.

"I'm more concerned about the person themselves," he said. "Smoking, that's like a little side factor."

Given the wide-ranging nature of Quebec's new smoking bans, even Saillant - himself a lifelong non-smoker - believes smokers deserve a break.

"In an apartment people have their intimacy, it's their private life, and in a way it's the only refuge they have."

Customs seize illicit cigarettes

August 4th, 2006 at 01:33 am

http://smokker.com/news/04-08-06/Customs-seize-illicit-cigarettes.1694.html



Customs officers seized 3m counterfeit and illegally imported cigarettes in the North West in one 24-hour period.


HM Revenue and Customs officials said the seizures, which took place between 27 and 28 July, offer a snapshot of the ongoing work to tackle tobacco fraud.

The figure includes more than 2.5m non-UK duty paid cigarettes seized in an industrial unit in Lancashire.

Officers also stopped 34 passengers carrying 157,410 cigarettes through Manchester and Liverpool airports.

Freight consignments

Linda Paul, HMRC head of detection in the North West, said they were determined to stop those bringing tobacco illegally into the country.

She said their actions were responsible for undercutting small business, undermining efforts to reduce smoking and depriving the Exchequer of valuable tax revenue.

During the 24-hour period last week, customs officers seized cigarettes being posted to UK addresses and found other consignments hidden in freight containers.

"This illegal activity should be condemned by the public," said Mrs Paul.

"Cigarette smuggling and counterfeiting is an organised crime as these routine seizures demonstrate, often linked to money laundering and drugs."

Cleveland mayor backs cigarettes tax for arts

August 4th, 2006 at 01:26 am

http://us-cigs.com/news/04.08.06/Cleveland-mayor-backs-cigarettes-tax-for-arts.1652.html




Mayor Frank Jackson and members of City Council said Thursday they support a Cuyahoga County proposal to add a cigarette tax to boost funding for the arts.


Cash-strapped cities such as Cleveland have to consider creative ways to offer public funds to the arts, and this tax would help the city's creative vitality without adding to income or property tax burdens, Jackson said.

"It is the overall quality of life and the well-being of citizens we are talking about, and one aspect of that is what art and culture brings to the table," Jackson said.

The city's museums, theaters and orchestra are well known, but creativity in neighborhoods among small art groups needs greater support, even though the arts usually are not a priority when residents are worried about schools and crime, the mayor said.

Voters will be asked to approve a 30-cent increase in Cuyahoga County's cigarette tax to finance arts and culture. County commissioners voted 3-0 on July 5 to place the proposal before voters on the Nov. 7 ballot.

If approved, the tax would raise about $20 million annually and would be allocated by the county commissioners. All arts and cultural groups and projects in the county would be allowed to compete for funding.

The county tax would provide local artists with another resource besides the Ohio Arts Council, a state agency that funds and supports the arts with funds from the Legislature and the National Endowment for the Arts.

On June 20, the Arts Council board approved the first round of grants for fiscal year 2007. The council awarded 429 grants totaling $7.8 million to support arts organizations and arts programs across Ohio. Organizations that receive OAC funds are required to match state tax dollars with additional public and private funds.

The ballot issue will have opposition. The Small Business Coalition, a nonprofit organization including small Cleveland-area stores where cigarettes are sold, is on record against the tax.

"We think this would be a negative economic impact for the community," said Gary Nolan, president of small business group.

Nolan, a smoker, said the organization does not agree that more public funding of the arts is needed.

"Why does art deserve my tax dollars? If it were such a great investment, the free market would invest in it," Nolan said. "We also don't think government needs to be involved in deciding which artist gets which amount of money, or who is truly is an artist."

In 2004, Cuyahoga County voters defeated a property tax proposal to finance arts and economic development projects.

If approved, the state and county taxes on cigarettes sold in the county would be about $1.60 a pack, a portion of which has been used to help finance a baseball stadium for the Cleveland Indians and a basketball arena for the Cleveland Cavaliers.

It has the support of the Cleveland area's Community Partnership for Arts and Culture.

State Sen. Erie Fingerhut, a Cleveland-area Democrat, is managing the campaign for the tax and said Cleveland needs a vibrant arts environment like the one in Toronto.

"The reason we're doing this is because of the economic needs of the city and county," Fingerhut said. A more vibrant arts community would attract business and people to the Cleveland area, he said.

New Outdoor Ashtray Hits the Market

August 4th, 2006 at 01:20 am

http://hot-cigs.com/news/Aug-04-2006/New-Outdoor-Ashtray-Hits-the-Market.1687.html



Sylvain Bourdeau had his Eureka! moment when he spotted the ground littered with cigarette butts outside a Boucher-ville bar on the eve of Quebec's ban on smoking in public places. "It hit me like a flash what people do with their cigarette butts," Bourdeau said yesterday, recalling his May 30 epiphany.


The image also reminded him of Montreal Mayor Gerald Tremblay's pledge to clear city streets and sidewalks of unsightly cigarette butts.

Marcel Tremblay, the mayor's brother and city councillor in charge of the clean-up program, referred to a billion butts discarded in public yearly.

"I had a vision and two days later, I got to work on it," Bourdeau said of his subsequent invention - the patent-pending I Kkwit Ashtray Tower.

Bourdeau, an Ecole des hautes etudes commerciales marketing graduate, said he added the second K to the name because a search found that the word "kwit" was already taken for another product.

"Besides, the letter K has strong business association to companies like Kodak and Kellogg's," he added.

The St. Jean-sur-Richelieu entrepreneur - he and his father, Jerome, started up Jer-B-Syl Inc. and the younger Bourdeau continues to operate the manufacturer of polyethylene baskets and trays for fruits and vegetables - spent $1,200 on a prototype of the 1.4-metre-tall ashtray.

Bourdeau is marketing the aluminum ashtray to three levels of government (350 Quebec municipalities alone), bars, restaurants, hospitals and companies.

The price, a few hundred dollars each depending on the quantity bought, includes installation, a choice of 400 colours and a 10-year guarantee even though Bourdeau suggests the ashtray will last at least 25 years without rusting.

Twenty-five are now being built on order at a subcontracted hometown company he said is capable of producing 50 to 100 a week.

The plan is also to rent the ashtrays for events and eventually sell advertising on them, making them revenue-generating.

Bourdeau claims he refused an offer of $250,000 last week for 30 per cent of the company "because I think my business will be worth a lot more than that before long."

He said he also turned down a potential partner who wanted to have the ashtrays made cheaply in China.

"I insist in staying in Quebec," Bourdeau said.

"I'm already creating local jobs with this project and I'd like to see something made in Quebec that will eventually be exported worldwide."

Although he hasn't yet officially contacted them, Bourdeau wants to donate $10 from the sale of each ashtray to the Canadian Cancer Society.

Arkansas governor: Day will come when cigarettes no longer sold

August 4th, 2006 at 01:13 am

http://www.pbcommercial.com



LITTLE ROCK - Gov. Mike Huckabee, who successfully pushed for a statewide workplace smoking ban earlier this year, predicted Wednesday that cigarettes eventually won't be sold because of their health risks.

"I think the day will come when we probably won't" sell cigarettes, Huckabee said on his monthly call-in radio show. "If cigarettes were introduced to the marketplace today, they wouldn't be sold. They'd never make it because what we didn't know when they were first created, sold and marketed is just how deadly harmful they were."

Huckabee was responding to a caller's question of why cigarettes are allowed to be sold if they are so harmful. The governor fielded complaints from at least two callers about the state smoking ban, which went into effect July 21.

Under the ban, violators could face fines of up to $500 for a criminal violation and $1,000 for a civil violation. The criminal penalties are already in effect; civil penalties go into effect Aug. 10.

The state has received about 250 complaints of violations of the new law since it went into effect last month, Arkansas health officials said earlier this week.

The law allows smoking areas in certain businesses, including small hotels and motels, retail tobacco stores and long-term care facilities. The law also includes an exemption for bars and restaurants that don't admit people under 21.

At least 130 businesses have applied for an exemption.

The governor has been targeted regularly on his radio show by smokers who say the ban violates their rights. One caller asked why the state doesn't charge nonsmokers for clean air.

Huckabee said the smoking ban is not an attempt to prevent people from smoking, but is a way to protect nonsmokers from tobacco's harmful effects.

"It's not about denying people the right to do something dangerous," he said. "Smoking is unequivocally dangerous...The question is, should the rest of us be responsible for any of the harm?"

Customs seize illicit cigarettes

August 4th, 2006 at 01:00 am

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/england/5239892.stm


Customs officers seized 3m counterfeit and illegally imported cigarettes in the North West in one 24-hour period.

HM Revenue and Customs officials said the seizures, which took place between 27 and 28 July, offer a snapshot of the ongoing work to tackle tobacco fraud.

The figure includes more than 2.5m non-UK duty paid cigarettes seized in an industrial unit in Lancashire.

Officers also stopped 34 passengers carrying 157,410 cigarettes through Manchester and Liverpool airports.

Freight consignments

Linda Paul, HMRC head of detection in the North West, said they were determined to stop those bringing tobacco illegally into the country.

She said their actions were responsible for undercutting small business, undermining efforts to reduce smoking and depriving the Exchequer of valuable tax revenue.

During the 24-hour period last week, customs officers seized cigarettes being posted to UK addresses and found other consignments hidden in freight containers.

"This illegal activity should be condemned by the public," said Mrs Paul.

"Cigarette smuggling and counterfeiting is an organised crime as these routine seizures demonstrate, often linked to money laundering and drugs."