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Archive for February, 2009|Monthly archive page

Smokefree Workplace Legislation Stats

In National News, State News on February 27, 2009 at 9:09 am

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In Arizona, 92 local-level policy makers in 15 local jurisdictions considered clean indoor air laws between 2001 and 2005. Policy makers who voted for these ordinances were more likely to be re-elected than those who voted against them.

Structured interviews revealed that policy makers did not believe the issue had an impact on re-election results and believed that although the issue may have been contentious, it was no longer salient in the community. Although legislators that voted for smokefree workplace policy were more frequently re-elected in Arizona, we need to conduct this same study in other states before we can make a borad generalization about re-election of policymakers who vote this way.

Some have said that if we do pass a smokefree workplace law, not many people will obey it. That may happen, but passing the law can also be one step in changing our cultural attitude toward tobacco.

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More Interesting Stats

In National News on February 26, 2009 at 9:35 am

Continued from yesterday’s post:

The lower the level of education, the greater the risk of being a current smoker, smoking daily, smoking heavily, being nicotine dependent, starting to smoke at an early age, having higher levels of circulating nicotinine per cigarettes smoked, and continuing to smoke in pregnancy. Educational level and smoking in pregnancy independently increase the risk of offspring smoking and antisocial and anxious/depressed behavior problems.

Economic conditions greatly impact the rate of women smokers and pregnant women smokers. So we need not only to help individual women quit smoking, we need to work on changing the social and economic conditions in which they live.

At 1999–2004 levels, secondhand smoke caused 21,800 to 75,100 deaths and 38,100 to 128,900 heart attacks annually, with a yearly treatment cost of $1.8 to $6.0 billion. If recent trends in the reduction in the prevalence of secondhand smoke continue from 2000 to 2008, the burden would be reduced by approximately 25%–30%.

Secondhand smoke-related illness and disease remains a substantial clinical and economic burden in the U.S. However, the decline in exposure rates in recent years will lead to a reduction by as much as 30% if current downward trends in exposure continue.

The infants who lived with a smoker were more likely to need acute care for respiratory illnesses compared to those who weren’t exposed. Very low birth weight infants may benefit from interventions that decrease exposure to respiratory triggers, especially secondhand smoke.

New Research

In State News on February 25, 2009 at 8:30 am

Here are a few interesting tidbits from several research studies released in January:

If you smoke and have a family history of aneurysms, you are at extremely high risk of suffering a stroke from a ruptured brain aneurysm.

Exposure to secondhand smoke increases sensitivity to allergens and increases allergic inflammation. Basically, it makes you more sensitive to allergies.

Smoking increases risk of Alzheimer’s disease and may increase risk of other dementias.

Deaths in Indiana related to smoking and secondhand smoke have decline 14% to 9,731 per year. Smoking mortality rates are down 43.7% for men but increased 1.7% for women. Smoking deaths in men are still twice that of women.

Each year in Indiana, 138,915 years of potential life are lost due to smoking. Smoking attributed mortality rates are 17% higher in Indiana than the U.S. average.

Smokefree Workplace Bill Is In The Senate

In State News on February 24, 2009 at 8:08 am

This from Tim Filler, one of our partners who works with our state congressmen:

Last week, the Indiana House of Representatives passed HB1213. As originally written, this bill would give everyone who lives and works in our state basic health protection from secondhand smoke. Unfortunately, the House added unacceptable loopholes that leave out the workers most impacted by secondhand smoke—those who work in bars and casinos.

Please ask members of the Indiana Senate to restore HB1213 to remove the exemptions that were added in the House and protect all Hoosier workers. All Indiana workers deserve to breathe smokefree air at work. Secondhand smoke contains 4,000 chemicals, including up to 69 carcinogens. No one should have to have to choose between their health and a paycheck.

Please ask members of the Indiana Senate to remove these exemptions and pass a comprehensive smokefree workplace bill so we all have the right to breathe free from secondhand smoke.

The bill sponsors for HB 1213 in the Senate are Senators Gary Dillon, Ed Charbonneau and Sue Errington. The bill has been assigned to the Senate Committee on Commerce, Public Policy and Interstate Cooperation. Senator Ron Alting from Lafayette is chair of this committee.

What you can do to help

  1. Please contact your member of the Indiana Senate, especially if that Senator is a member of the committee that will hear HB1213, and ask the Senator to support a comprehensive smokefree workplace law that protects ALL workers and removes the exemptions that were added in the House. Contact your member of the Indiana Senate by telephone by calling 1-800-382-9467.
  2. Ask your Senator to oppose preemption of the authority of local municipalities to adopt a stronger law than state law.
  3. Write a letter to the editor of your local newspaper urging the Indiana General Assembly to only pass a comprehensive smokefree workplace law that protects all workers and to not settle for weak, loophole-filled partial measures that leave workers behind.

Big Tobacco Continues Marketing To Women And Girls

In National News, State News on February 23, 2009 at 8:40 am

The  American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, American Heart Association, American Lung Association, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids are releasing a new report on the latest wave of tobacco company marketing to women and girls. 

Check out this video. I think you’ll be as shocked and angered as I was by how Big Tobacco targets women’s desire to be glamorous and thin to sell them a deadly product. What really angered me was the statement that the FDA regulates our cosmetics but not the cigarettes that have caused lung cancer to surpass the rate of breast cancer in women. In fact, as you’ll hear, lung cancer has declined in men but not in women.

The new report details the marketing of R.J. Reynolds’ Camel No. 9 and Philip Morris’s Virginia Slims Purse Packs.  It puts that marketing into the context of the industry’s long history of targeting women and girls and outlines the devastating impact of that marketing on women’s health.

The report points to the need for Congress to FINALLY pass legislation giving the FDA the authority to regulate tobacco products, including the marketing of products like those outlined in the report.  At the state level, the report points to the need for tobacco control measures like funding for comprehensive tobacco prevention and cessation programs, smoke-free laws and increased tobacco taxes.

Deadly Tobacco

In State News on February 20, 2009 at 8:29 am

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More than 1,000 people died in a year from the chemicals of secondhand smoke. If we knew definitively that this many people died in a year from, say, tainted food or toys, the companies that sold those products would be shut down and face criminal charges and fines.

Yet tobacco is glamorized in movies and on TV. (Just last night, we were watching Hell’s Kitchen, and nearly every chef in that show smokes.) Stores place tobacco advertisements at eye level for children. Groups backed by the tobacco industry and congressmen talk about businesses’ rights to chose whether their employees’ health is important enough to ban smoking in their buildings. Many of these happen because of the money and influence of Big Tobacco, and all of them help create a culture that says tobacco is OK.

But as statistics show and as court cases decided, tobaco is a dangerous and deadly drug. Why shouldn’t it have the same stigma as lead paint, melamine, and salmonella? Why shouldn’t it be regulated the same as we regulate other addictive substances such as Lortab?

Indiana Tobacco Sales To Minors Reaches New Low

In Local News, State News on February 19, 2009 at 8:41 am

Sales of tobacco products to Indiana youth who are assisting with the Tobacco Retailer Inspection Program (TRIP) hit an all-time low last year. Sales occured during just 7.2 percent of more than 8,000 inspections, reversing the slight increase seen the previous year.

TRIP is a joint venture of the School of Health, Physical Education and Recreation’s Indiana Prevention Resource Center at Indiana University Bloomington and the Indiana State Excise Police.

When TRIP inspections began in 2000, 40 percent of retailers were found to have sold tobacco to minors, and the state saw six consecutive years of decline until 2007’s slight increase. In 2007, underage sales were made during 12.7 percent of inspections, compared to 10.5 percent the previous year.

“The data from 2008 reflects the work that is being done across the state to protect Indiana youth from the harmful effects of tobacco,” said Aaron Jones, TRIP operations coordinator at the IPRC. “Many steps were taken last year to directly influence youth access. Through revisions to the state code, the State Excise Police enacted a steeper fine schedule for retail outlets with violations, and the development of a new online manual and quiz for retail clerks was an important educational component.”

In Indiana it is illegal for a clerk or a retail establishment to sell tobacco products to anyone under the age of 18.
Last year TRIP conducted more than 8,000 unannounced inspections of retail outlets across the state — an increase of more than 1,400 inspections from 2007. In each of 13 inspection districts, teams made up of a police officer, an adult assistant and a youth assistant conduct the inspections.

During TRIP inspections, the youth enters a store under the observation of the adult or officer and attempts to buy a tobacco product — usually cigarettes, but sometimes chewing tobacco if it is a popular product in the area, or cigars. If the youth is successful with the purchase, the TRIP officer issues a notice of violation to the clerk and to the store. Fines for stores with violations range from $200 to $1,000 depending on the number of prior violations the store has received.

The TRIP program is an important component in Indiana’s effort to reduce tobacco use. Tobacco use by adults is linked with the age of initiation. The American Lung Association reports that 90 percent of adult smokers started before the age of 21, and up to half of them will die from tobacco related diseases.

“Programs such as a TRIP are a proven prevention approach that can impact tobacco use rates,” said Ruth Gassman, IPRC executive director. “By improving compliance with policies and laws, we can change the way in which youth view tobacco use. As with the support for clean indoor air ordinances, limiting youth access to tobacco products is another way of demonstrating that Indiana cares about the health of our youth.”

TRIP is supported by the Master Tobacco Settlement fund through the Indiana Tobacco Prevention and Cessation Agency and is administered through the Alcohol and Tobacco Commission and the IPRC, which is in the School of HPER’s Department of Applied Health Science. Additional funding for TRIP comes from the FSSA Division of Mental Health and Addiction to cover activities related to federal reporting requirements resulting from the Synar Amendment.

These data show Indiana is reducing social acceptability of tobacco use in the community. However, one of the most effective interventions we can do to prevent youth from starting to smoke is to eliminate tobacco smoke in all workplaces. Many youth work in places that are currently not smoke free.

The fewer opportunities teens have to see others smoking or to have the opportunity to experiment with smoking, the less likely they will become a smoker. 

With the introduction of new tobacco products that are spitless and smokeless, we need to work to ensure youth do not have access. Some of these products have up to three times the amount of nicotine as a cigarette, so we are concerned about youth and others consuming large quantities of these deadly products.

Smokefree Workplaces Bill Passes In House

In Local News, State News on February 18, 2009 at 11:24 am

The Indiana House passed a weak smokefree workplaces bill yesterday. Read the Indianapolis Star article for more details.

Locally, our Rep. Mark Messmer voted for the bill, with its additional exemptions. The bill now goes to the Senate, where we hope the exemptions will be removed and the bill will become stronger.

House Votes On Smokefree Workplaces Bill

In Local News, State News on February 17, 2009 at 8:47 am

The House passed HB 1213 on second reading yesterday. Here’s a link to the amended bill as it now stands.

Representatives did remove the preemption clause, which would have prohibited local governments from passing stronger smokefree workplace laws than the state law. However, they added exemptions for nursing homes and racinos.

They also added this phrasing:

Abstaining from tobacco use is preferred, encouraged, and supported over the use of tobacco. … The dignity and value of an individual are not diminished if the individual chooses to use tobacco.

The next step is the third reading of the bill and a vote from the full House. That could happen today.

We are still supporting the passage of this bill in hopes we can strengthen it in Senate committee. However, if the exemptions are not removed, we will oppose it because it is such a weak bill. Please continue to contact your legislators in both the House and Senate. I gave you Rep. Messmer’s contact information in yesterday’s entry. You can email Sen. Hume through his website.

Town Hall Meeting

In Local News on February 16, 2009 at 8:47 am

Saturday, I attended a town hall meeting in Winslow with Sen. Lindel Hume, Rep. Mark Messmer, and Rep. Craig Battles. I talked about HB 1213, the one that would have banned smoking in all workplaces, including bars and casinos, until the Public Policy Committee amended it. They also included a provision that would not allow local governments to pass a stronger law than the state law.

I told the congressmen on behalf of the coalitions in Pike and Daviess counties that we believe all workers should receive equal protection, even those who work in bars and casinos, because sometimes these people don’t have much of a choice about where they work, especially in today’s economy. I also pointed out that removing this exemption would save our state millions in health care costs, money that could be used to create jobs and educate our kids.

I also asked them to support any ammendment that would remove the preemption clause because local governments should be able to pass laws that are stronger than state law if they desire. Right now, they would have to do it before the end of 2009, but I don’t think there should be any time limit. Sometimes it takes longer than a year for a city or county to decide they want to ban smoking in all workplaces.

The congressmen seemed favorable toward removing the preemption clause but not toward removing the exemptions for places that allow admittance only to people 18 and over. Voice your opinion on this very important matter by calling Rep. Mark Messmer, who covers the Daviess and Pike district, at 800-382-9841 or email him at H63@iga.in.gov. Remind him that his own survey showed 55 percent of people in his district would support a statewide smoking ban.