I don’t get the chance to post a lot of stories about smoking bans anymore, but lo and behold, another big city in the South has gone smokefree.
After seeing the success of New Orleans going smokefree a year ago, Louisiana’s second-biggest city, Baton Rouge, followed suit earlier this month, with a parish-wide smoking ban.
Louisiana already had a statewide smoking ban in restaurants, but now the two biggest cities in the state have banned smoking in all bars, casinos and restaurants.
Baton Rouge debated the issue for months before finally taking the plunge.
Reports are mixed about the smoking ban’s success in New Orleans. It remains popular with residents, with one poll showing 78 percent support, but Harrah’s Casino claims the ban cost the casino $35 million business (Honestly, I find that figure hard to believe. I really do. There are smokefree casinos all over the country doing just fine, so I suspect other economic factors are playing a role.).
So, with Baton Rouge jumping on board, there are few large cities left in the South without some level of smoking bans, though in many Southern cities, bans are just in restaurants. There aren’t any statewide bans in the Deep South and states have left the issue up to local communities.
I remember many, many years ago a friend of mine moved to Prague and when she came back she told me how incredibly smoky all the pubs and restaurants were there.
Eastern Europe has some of the heaviest smoking rates in all of Europe and some of the most lax smoking laws
Well, the Czech Republic finally joined most of the First World by finally banning smoking in bars and restaurants. According to the Washington Post, Slovakia is now the only EU member nation that does not have any national smoking ban.
Violating the ban is a stiff fine — the equivalent of $190. Ouch!
“Most Czechs approve the ban, but a group of lawmakers have challenged it at the Constitutional Court.
Jakub Storek, owner of the Cafe Liberal in Prague — a popular hangout among local smokers — said he opposed the ban.
“It’s hard to predict the impact at the moment,” he said. “But I guess it would be different clients coming here in the future.”
Stepan Ourecky said he would still come, but may light up outside the cafe.
“Or perhaps, I will smoke less,” the 18-year old student said.”
Only a few countries in Europe still allow indoor smoking. Portugal has weak smokefree laws and another is Austria, which is going completely smokefree in 2018. Most of the other non-smokefree countries are in the former Yugoslavia.
Alaska, in all of its rugged individualism and Libertarian glory, was one of the last places I would expect to pass a statewide smoking ban. But, The Last Frontier state just might do it.
The Alaska State Senate passed a bill to ban smoking in all enclosed buildings, including bars and restaurants, 15-5. It now goes to the Alaska House.
Smoking in bars and restaurants is already banned in Anchorage, Juneau and a few other small cities in Alaska. Since Anchorage is the only major city in the state, roughly half the people in Alaska are already used to a bar and restaurant smoking ban.
The push for statewide bans has slowed down considerably in the past few years. The big push was between 2000 and 2010. I think the last state to implement a statewide smoking ban might have been Indiana in 2012, which banned smoking in restaurants, but not bars and casinos. Kansas might have been the last state to pass a total statewide ban in 2010. Pretty much everywhere where state bans were going to pass has already done it, and the holdouts are very conservative, very Republican states, mostly in the South, which tend to have anti-regulatory Legislatures (unless of course, they’re trying to regulate gay marriage or women’s reproductive organs.).
A total of 29 states have total smoking bans, while several other states have bans on smoking in restaurants and most other workplaces, but exempt bars. Even in the states without total smoking bans, most large cities have banned smoking in bars and restaurants. There’s at least 50 major cities in Texas with total smoking bans.
So, there has been very little movement on the state smoking ban issue since 2012.
According to an article on KTUU Anchorage’s Website, a recent survey showed 69 percent support for a statewide smoking ban and 28 percent opposition. The bill contains a cute little exemption for commercial fishing boats. You can still smoke in a fishing boat (which, I guess technically is a workplace.).
I have no idea if the bill will pass in the House or if the governor would sign, but passing so easily in the Senate and with 69 percent approval of the proposal, it’s looking positive.
“I asked (county commissioners) if it’s not the role of the government to protect people, then what is the role of the government?” said Tristan Deering, a senior at Grayson County High School.
Gary Logsdon, the county judge-executive, replied with a racist comment that suggested he believed President Barack Obama was a tyrant.
“I’m not black and I’m not Obama — and I’m not making you do anything,” Logsdon said.
Logsdon went on to add:
“And I love blacks and whites,” Logsdon said. “I respect blacks but, you know, I’m not Obama.”
I’m sure the guy loves blacks. I’m sure he really has a lot of black friends. Really. I have no doubt of this, because I’ve never, ever heard racists claim this before.
The poor teen went on to say he was “baffled,” by Logsdon’s comment. Hey, you aren’t alone, kiddo. I really think a lot of right-wingers just so hopelessly have Obama Derangement Syndrome, they can’t stop thinking or talking about him … or blaming him for everything under the sun. That’s all I can really figure here.
Maybe this guy is “Confederate1978” or whatever. This is a guy from Kentucky who trolls stories about smoking bans posting insane comments about government and Obama and blacks (though you can guess what he usually calls blacks, hint … it rhymes with “chiggers.”) The coincidence is actually kind of amazing here. I’ve seen ol’ Confederate’s name pop up in the comments section of many smoking ban stories for years now. I haven’t seen hide nor hair out of the guy for almost a couple of years.
Anyway, the smoking ban vote failed in Grayson County. Grayson County is a fairly rural county in central Kentucky. Despite being a centre of tobacco-growing and having one of the highest smoking rates, there’s actually a number of city and country full-blown smoking bans in Kentucky in places such as Louisville, Lexington and Bowling Green.
States hit hardest by the ravages of tobacco are often the least aggressive at hitting back, a USA TODAY analysis found. So a deadly culture of smoking lingers, which officials say is fueled relentlessly by tobacco companies targeting minorities and the poor.
• Big tobacco-growing states such as Kentucky, Tennessee and Georgia have the poorest and sickest residents, yet spend less than 20% of the federal government’s recommended minimum for tobacco education and enforcement.
• States with the most smokers weaken their own tobacco control efforts with cigarette taxes of 60 cents or less, compared with $3.75 in Rhode Island and $4.35 in New York.
• Hard-hit states also do the least to restrict smoking in places such as restaurants and workplaces and impose penalties of $100 or less on businesses selling tobacco to children, compared with $10,000 in the most aggressive states.
I like to show this phenomena graphically. Here is a map of the states with the highest rates of lung cancer. Darker is bad:
Now, here is a map of the states with the lowest cigarette taxes. Red means low taxes:
Now, here is a map with showing indoor smoking bans. White means total smoking bans, black means no statewide smoking bans (yellow means weak smoking bans).
Wow, it’s absolutely amazing the correlation, isn’t it? Actually, it really is, I’m not trying to be snarky.
Like I said, I’ve been aware of this correlation for some time, Now throw in the other factor of states in the Deep South spending little on tobacco education. Again, I’ve been aware of this for some time, the USA Today article speaks about how little states spend from the $280 billion Master Settlement Agreement on tobacco education, using that money instead to balance their state budgets (In USA Today’s word — “fix potholes.”).
Also, not a coincidence. Where is most of the tobacco in the U.S. grown? In the Deep South.
From USA Today:
Critics say one reason some states aren’t very aggressive is that tobacco is woven tightly into their communities even as the number of tobacco farms continues to shrink. “You can look at a map of tobacco control policies and see that every state that has weaker policies is a tobacco-growing state,” says Yvonne Hunt, who heads the tobacco control research branch of the National Cancer Institute.
Sitting in a cancer education booth at a free health clinic in southwest Virginia this summer, pharmacy student Anesa Hughes tried to explain why smoking is so common in her area. It’s “such a cultural thing,” says Hughes, who walked behind a tiller on her family’s tobacco farm starting at age 8. “It’s like we’re in a time warp.”
It’s a self-destructive culture. A mentality that “tobacco has always been a part of our culture.” Well, so has racism … does that somehow make it a good thing? These states have the highest smoking rates — Kentucky and West Virginia have been the highest for a while now, and places like Alabama and Mississippi aren’t far behind. People literally killing themselves and stubbornly clinging to the idea that somehow the right to kill themselves correlates to “Liberty,” or something… because their cigarette taxes are low and they can light up pretty much anywhere they want, especially outside the big cities. It’s a frustrating, exasperating reality. “Maybe I’m killing myself, but ain’t no Obama telling me what to do…” or some such thing.
As an aside, most of these Southern states also lead the U.S. in rates of diabetes. Part of that is smoking, it’s now known that smoking is a factor in causing diabetes, part of it is poor diet, obesity, lack of health care, high rates of poverty, etc. The sickest part of the country … which does little or nothing about it. And the people there keep voting for the people who do little or nothing about it.
Surprise because the People’s Republic of China isn’t big on environmental or health regulations.
According to a study done by the local government, casino revenue, which has already been dropping the last few years, would be cut by about 4.6 percent if the ban was implemented. The study concludes that about 23 percent of the people who visit Macau are smokers and about 30 percent to 50 percent like to smoke while they are gambling.
SSM (A Chinese Health Agency) Director Lei Chin Ion made these estimates based on the assumption that 20 percent of the smokers who travel to Macau to gamble would go elsewhere if they couldn’t smoke.
According to this Macau News, smoking is already banned in mass gaming areas, but smoking lounges are allowed in casinos. A law being proposed would ban smoking on all casinos premises.
Clemson, the heart of tobacco country, recently announced that all tobacco products are banned on campus. The ban includes chew and e-cigarettes.
Many colleges and universities now ban tobacco products, even in deep red states like South Carolina, which have low taxes on cigarettes and lax tobacco control laws in general. No state in the Deep South has a full smoking ban, and only a few such as Georgia and Louisiana, even ban smoking in restaurants.
A really important study from the U.K, furthering bolstering the long-ago established benefit of smoking bans.
Many, many, many, many studies claim that smoking bans result in a drop in heart attack admissions in local hospitals. (These studies drive smokers’ righters and Michael Siegel out of their minds, but there are SO many of these studies that all reach the same conclusion, only a smoking fanatic would adore them.). A new study from the University of Edinburgh now suggests that stats back up the hypothesis that smoking bans result in lower rates of stillbirths and newborn deaths. According to this study, stillbirths and newborn deaths both dropped 8 percent.
It’s well known that smoking is a huge risk factor for stillbirths. This study backs the idea that secondhand smoke also causes stillbirths.
From the University Herald article:
“This study is further evidence of the potential power of smoke-free legislation to protect present and future generations from the devastating health consequences of smoking and second hand exposure to tobacco smoke,” Aziz Sheikh, co-director of the University of Edinburgh’s Center for Medical Informatics, said in a statement.
According to the article, the number of stillbirths and newborn deaths dropped by 1,500 in the U.K. in the four years since a smoking ban was put in in place. 1,500 lives saved, just in the U.K. How many thousands of lives have been saved in the U.S. and worldwide by similar smoking bans?
Ninety-six percent. Man. That’s a lot of crap people were breathing before. In casinos, traditionally the most smoky venues of all, the small particulates level dropped 99 percent. So, all that’s left is like a few dust motes.
From a Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids press release:
“We’ve heard from so many people in our bars, restaurants and casino who say they feel better and can breathe easier now without the stress of knowing they are in an unhealthy environment,” said New Orleans Councilwoman Latoya Cantrell, the ordinance’s chief sponsor. “The air is definitely cleaner in New Orleans – and the city has made a very smooth transition to this improvement. This makes it clear that we did the right thing.”
“The smoke-free law has always been about protecting people’s health by creating healthier air for all to enjoy,” said Tonia Moore, associate director, the Louisiana Campaign for Tobacco-Free Living (TFL). “This study demonstrates conclusively that the law is protecting the health of New Orleans hospitality workers, entertainers and patrons who were previously endangered by the harmful air pollutants in secondhand smoke. They and their families have to be thrilled that they have significantly reduced their exposure to the harmful health effects of secondhand smoke, including increased risks of cancer and heart disease.”
Now, the law was fought tooth and nail by a coalition of New Orleans restaurants, bars and casinos (including some restaurants that are already smokefree 😕 …. which is really curious to me.) The coalition filed suit against the law passed last year, but the lawsuit was dismissed. The businesses behind the lawsuit were concerned that the smoking ban would cost them customers and revenues.
Next, I would love to see the data on how the smoking ban is affecting tourism and business in New Orleans. It would probably be at least December until we could see some preliminary 6-month data on sales taxes, hotel taxes, etc., in the city.
This month is also the 10-year anniversary of the Katrina disaster in New Orleans. I found a bunch of stories on how tourism in the city is thriving, even if some neighbourhoods have not been rebuilt (and may never be rebuilt).
From a tourism perspective, here are the facts from UNO’s Hospitality Research Center. In 2006, the city hosted 3.72 million visitors (a 74 percent decline) who spent $2.89 billion, a 42 percent decline from pre-disaster numbers. In 2014, visitors numbered 9.52 million and their spending was $6.81 billion.
So, in short, the number of tourists visiting New Orleans and the amount of money they spend has more than doubled since the year after Katrina. I mean, compared to where New Orleans was in 2006, businesses are worried about some kind of perceived hit from a smoking ban? Please. I mean, in 2005, it looked like the city would never recover. Be thrilled with how New Orleans is doing. Don’t be freaked out by a little thing like a smoking ban … that’s a pretty trivial challenge compared to Katrina.
China is notoriously lax about enforcing any sort of environmental or public-health laws (this is why you don’t want to buy dog treats made in China), but according to this article, Beijing is serious about cracking down on smoking in bars, clubs and restaurants. It is a $32 fine for smokers and up to a $1,600 fine for businesses that allow it. After two months, the city has collected $16,000 in fines.
Beijing has actually attempted a smoking ban, but dropped it. And several other cities in China have had unsuccessful smoking bans. From the ForeignPolicy.com story:
The ban’s early success — one month after it began, the Beijing Association on Tobacco Control described the short-term results as “satisfactory” — is noteworthy. Environmental or health-friendly policies are often introduced to great fanfare in China, usually accompanied by amiable mantras like “Healthy City,” only to quietly fade due to lack of political will or commercial incentive.
When it comes to smoking, Chinese cities have mostlyproven willing to stub out only while international audiences are watching. What starts as erratic enforcement soon peters out, and the country light back up as soon as the world turns away. Take Guangzhou, the capital of southern Guangdong, whichexperimented with an ill-fated smoking crackdown in 2010, and has been doing so on-and-off, and without success, since 1995. Then there’s financial capital Shanghai, which made a similarly short-lived effortprior to its World Expo in 2010, themed “Better Life, Better City.” Beijing has also tried, with at least one half-hearted effort targeting large restaurants during the 2008 Olympics. That effectively ended when the foreign press went home.
The writer, based in Beijing, adds that he has personally witnessed a decrease in indoor smoking, including tobacco “fiends” standing outside a 24-hour club notorious for its “anything goes atmosphere.” The author stated that smoking was so ubiquitous in China as recently as 2009 — seeing smoking in hospital rooms, etc. — that he didn’t believe it would be possible for any smoking ban to have an effect.
Beijing may be taking steps to reduce smoking, but the city still struggles with its infamous horrendous smog. The smog may be one reason the capital has finally decided to become serious about a smoking ban, but at the same time, it is a small step in making Beijing a more healthy place.
From the article:
But what may prove more effective than the threat of a financial penalty is the growing realization that Beijing, already fending off notorious pollution, can no longer afford to carry the public-health burden of a citywide smoking habit as well.
… Smoking may eventually come to be viewed as an oddly indulgent habit in a city whose air is already persistently hostile to one’s health. Indeed, an unusual spate of recent thunderstorms, coupled with low winds, has left a spectral gloom over the city this summer, a reminder of greater problems yet to be resolved. In this clammy atmosphere, young commuters, lining up at bus stops, seem to cough, hawk, and grumble like terminal smokers. The capital may be ready to finally give up its favorite bad habit, but it has plenty of others still to kick.