First of all, the headline is a little misleading. It says “Every state will ban smoking.” They aren’t banning smoking, they’re just banning it in bars and restaurants.
It will be interesting to revisit this in 9 years to see if the CDC is right. It’s not a particularly bold prediction, since there are only 12 states left that *don’t* have smoking bans. The article says seven — Texas, Mississippi, Kentucky, West Virginia, Indiana, Wyoming, South Carolina — but that’s incorrect. They forgot to mention Alaska, Missouri, Oklahoma, Alabama and North Dakota. It’s 12 states that do not *effectively* have smoking bans in either bars or restaurants.
What’s interesting is, in most of these states, the major cities all have smoking bans — Houston, Dallas, Austin, El Paso, Charleston, Louisville, Lexington, Indianapolis, Casper, Cheyenne, Kansas City, St. Louis and now Bismarck (Bismarck voters just approved a smokefree law — by a HUGE margin — about 60-40 percent). So, even though there are no statewide bans in these states, there really aren’t that many places in those states where you can still light up in a bar or a restaurant.
By coincidence, most of these states have high smoking rates and high lung cancer rates.
The article correctly states that smoking bans do drive down smoking rates and that hospital admissions for heart disease among *non-smokers* have consistently declined in communities that have smoking bans.
Ontario was quite concerned about Charlie Sheen coming there on his crazy “Torpedo of Truth!” tour because of his chain smoking. Canada has some very strict indoor smoking laws and apparently in some of his earlier appearances in America, Sheen was puffing away.
According to this story:
Ontario Health Promotion Minister Margarett Best said she was personally willing to give Sheen a hand in quitting smoking while he’s in Toronto on Thursday for his “My Violent Torpedo of Truth/Defeat is not an Option” show.
She also pointed out that health inspectors would be in the city’s Massey Hall venue to make sure Sheen doesn’t violate a provincial law prohibiting smoking in enclosed public spaces, the Canadian Press reported.
“I would encourage him, given that he is a smoker, to call our hotline and to try and quit smoking for his own health,” the news service quoted the minister saying.
Hah, well, it turned out to be all for naught, because Charlie behaved during his Ontario show, and nary a cigarette was fired up. He even refused to light up after being dared by the audience. He did smoke a water vapour cigarette however (an e-cig perhaps) and apaprently made a couple of dashes to a fire escape near the stage.
Smoking ban rejected … after voters approved it
One really pissed me off. A small city in Missouri, Webb City, passed a smoking ban through a voter initiative. The City Council then turned around and voted not to implement the smoking ban because they didn’t agree with it — even though more than 56 percent of the voters in their city voted for it. It’s the same fucking thing going on in Montana where Republican legislators keep trying to overturn voter-approved initiatives they don’t agree with.
Webb City Mayor John Biggs responded, “Well obviously some council members believe their opinions are more important than their constituents.”
According to the article:
“The Smoke Free Webb City coalition says the fight is far from over. They will first look into a referendum to get the issue on the ballot again and to make the results binding. Stark says if that’s not available they may have other options. She says, “If recall of city council people is available, then we will probably pursue that route.”
Arkansas bans smoking in cars with kids
Arkansas is the latest state to ban smoking in cars with kids. I think this is sort of a legacy left behind by their former governor, Mike Huckabee, who was a bit of an anti-smoking zealot (and scary Christian fanatic to boot.).
Arkansas already had a law that you couldn’t smoke in a vehicle if you had a child in a child car seat. That law was expanded to include all children under the age of 14.
Personally, I still can’t believe in this day and age there are still people fucking stupid enough to smoke in cars with kids. It’s idiotic that you even have to legislate this stuff, but some people won’t learn until they’re handed a $75 ticket.
This is a brand new book I just ordered through Amazon: “Smoke Damage: Voices from the Front Lines of America’s Tobacco War”
Here is the product description. Sounds powerful:
Tobacco use causes over 440,000 premature deaths every year in the United States, or about 20 percent of all annual mortality in the nation. Such statistics remind us of the enormity of the problem, yet offer no insight into how tobacco-related disease is experienced by individuals and their families.
Smoke Damage fills this gap by putting a human face on America’s most profitable and most preventable epidemic. Through interviews and photographs, sociologist Michael Schwalbe takes readers beyond the usual statistics and shows the real people—disease survivors, “tobacco widows,” educators, activists, legislators, lawyers, researchers, and farmers—on the front lines of America’s ongoing tobacco wars. The result is a poignant study of how tobacco-related disease is experienced not only by its victims but also by those who are dedicated to fighting it.
In his introductory essay, Schwalbe examines the scope of the tobacco problem, discusses its economic roots, and writes of his own experience of tobacco’s costs. In his afterword, he explores patterns in the lives of disease survivors, offers policy recommendations, and invites readers to take action. Smoke Damage is for anyone whose life has been touched by tobacco-related disease and who wants to understand why the epidemic persists and what can be done to end it.
OK, this made me chuckle, and it kind of highlights some of the problems with states having wildly divergent cigarette taxes.
A gas station in Chester, N.Y., which is right on the N.Y.-Connecticut border, parked an ice cream truck at the far end of its parking lot, which is technically in Connecticut, so it could sell cigarettes for $1.35 less a pack than what they cost in New York. The Connecticut cigarette tax is $3 a pack, while the N.Y. tax is $4.35 a pack.
The gas station is using an old ice cream truck and according to the Connecticut Department of Revenue, it is legal.
This is kind of cute, but it also shows the problems with states having different cigarette taxes. If you have one state with a tax $1 a pack higher than a neighbouring state, then smokers will go to the trouble of crossing the border to load up on cartons of cigarettes. If they buy six cartons of cigarettes, they’ve just saved $60 in taxes. It also really ads to the black market of cigarettes, too.
The extremely weak ban, which would have exempted bars, casinos and private clubs, would have only applied to restaurants. It passed in the State House of Representatives several weeks ago. The Senate Public Policy Committee rejected the ban by an 8-1 vote, saying “we need to go back to the drawing board.”
The American Cancer Society opposed the bill, saying it was too weak.
Indiana remains the only state east of the Mississippi and north of the Mason-Dixon Line with no smoking ban, though Pennsylvania’s is very weak.
Voters in Springfield, Mo., on Tuesday approved a citywide smoking ban by a vote of 53-47, following the lead of voters in nearby Kansas City. This is interesting because Missouri has been one of the most strident anti-smoking ban states in the country. (In fact, Missouri has the lowest state cigarette taxes in the nation, too, at a paltry 17 cents a pack.) A statewide ban there has absolutely no traction, but several cities, including Columbia, Independence and St. Louis, have varying types of citywide bans. Jefferson City earlier this year also passed by a city smoking ban by a vote of 58-42 percent. I think St. Charles is probably the only major city in Missouri that still allows smoking in bars and restaurants.
A statewide smoking ban in Ohio, which has been highly contentious from Day One, is headed to the Ohio Supreme Court. An appeal of lower court ruling upholding the law, was accepted by the Supreme Court. That means they will hear the case and make a ruling. No date has been set yet for a Supreme Court ruling.
A Supreme Court has yet to overturn a state smoking ban, though several other statewide bans have made it to their state’s Supreme Courts. A bar in Columbus that has been fined a total of $30,000 for ignoring the law is the plaintiff in the case.
However, this case could be moot. The governor, a Republican (natch) is proposing cutting 83 percent of the funding for the state’s smoking ban enforcement division within the Department of Health (Not sure why the county health departments don’t enforce it like most states.).
Some of the most strident opposition to smoking bans seems to come out of Ohio. While smoking bans in most states were implemented without much fuss or muss, it has remained heated among a minority of smokers there since the law went into effect in 2006 — FIVE YEARS AGO.
On Topix, the “Ohio approves smoking ban” thread is STILL ACTIVE after nearly five years and has generated more than 70,000 comments in five years. That’s about 40 comments a day, every day, for the past five years. Most threads only last 2 to 4 weeks then run out of gas. I think it’s the same 10 people congregating there every day to call each other names. Some of these threads get incredibly ugly.
Arizona Medicaid may consider a $50 annual tax on smokers and the obese. What I find it funny is that Republicans piss and moan the loudest about NANNY STATE, and these are the most fascist right-wing Republicans on the planet proposing this. For instance, diabetics who fail to follow their doctor’s order to lose weight would have to pay this tax.
I actually don’t have a strong opinion about this one way or the other (Private insurance companies already charge smokers and diabetics more for their premiums, so it is not a novel concept). Again, I just find it funny that such a right-wing douchebag state administration that got voted into office by “keep gubmint out of our lives” old people (who are probably getting Medicare and Social Security) is considering doing this, apparently out of sheer desperation because their Medicaid is broke.