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Posts tagged: smoking

Ketchum passes far-reaching smoking ban

Here's a news item from the Associated Press: KETCHUM, Idaho (AP) — Ketchum officials have banned smoking in a long list of areas that include all city-owned facilities, parks, and indoor public places and places of employment, including hotel and motel rooms. The Idaho Mountain Express reports (http://bit.ly/XRichp) that city councilors passed the ordinance Monday that comes with a yearlong education campaign before enforcement begins. After that penalties start with a warning and rise to a $52 fine for a third violation. Employers in the resort area who are found to discriminate against employees making complaints concerning the ordinance face fines of $1,000 to $5,000.

You can read the Idaho Mountain Express' full report here from reporter Brennan Rego.

ISU to go smoke-free campus-wide in September, joins BSU, but not UI

Idaho State University will ban smoking campus-wide starting in September, the Idaho State Journal reports, following a recommendation from student leaders, who passed  a resolution nearly a year ago backing the move. That means ISU will join Boise State in becoming a smoke-free campus; BSU enacted its ban in 2009. The University of Idaho has chosen not to go entirely smoke-free, instead enacting policies restricting smoking on campus but not banning it entirely. Other Idaho colleges banning smoking campus-wide include the College of Southern Idaho in Twin Falls and North Idaho College in Coeur d'Alene.

A campus survey at ISU showed only 8.8 percent of the campus community smokes daily; and 60.7 percent were in favor of ISU going completely smoke-free, with 15.7 percent neutral and 1 percent with no opinion. The campus plans to offer smoking-cessation aid in conjunction with the ban; click below for the full ISU news release.

The Legislature’s last cigarette smoker…

In a state Legislature that used to be filled with clouds of cigarette smoke, there's now only one state lawmaker who regularly steps outside for a smoke: Rep. Bob Nonini, R-Coeur d'Alene. There also are a scattering of cigar aficionados, a few discreet chewing-tobacco users and at least one pipe smoker, reports AP reporter John Miller, but far fewer legislators smoke than even the 16 percent of Idaho adults who puff cigarettes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Miller reports that the Capitol's dwindling population of tobacco users today stands in stark contrast to the 1970s, when smoking was so prevalent even inveterate abstainers gladly suspended House Rule 40 — the one forbidding smoking on the floor — just to keep business moving. Click below for Miller's full report.

Cig tax hike backers revising bill

A coalition of 25 organizations, from the American Lung Association in Idaho to the Idaho Association of Counties, is backing a $1.25 per pack increase in Idaho's cigarette tax, Heidi Low, coalition spokeswoman, told the Legislature's Health Care Task Force today. “We don't yet have legislation, we're still hammering out a couple of the details,” Low told lawmakers. Among those: Backers are working to make sure the bill sends the proceeds from the tax hike not to the state's general fund, but specifically to smoking-related health costs and smoking cessation efforts, she said.

Idaho's current cigarette tax of 57 cents a pack, now lower than just eight other states, would rise to $1.82 under the proposal; the national average is $1.46. Washington's is currently $3.025; Oregon's is $1.18; Nevada's is 80 cents; Utah's is $1.70; Wyoming's is 60 cents; and Montana's is $1.70. Sen. Joyce Broadsword, R-Sagle, told Low, “This puts my small business owners that are close to the border with Montana at a disadvantage, and I'm going to be hearing from them if this is the bill that goes forward.”

Low said “conservative” estimates show the increase would bring in $51.1 million a year and decrease youth smoking by 20 percent.

Boise joins wave with smoking ban…

The Boise City Council last night enacted a far-reaching anti-smoking ordinance, banning smoking in all bars in the city, at most outdoor patio dining areas, near bus stops or line-ups, in public parks and within 20 feet of the city's Greenbelt path. Idaho already bans smoking statewide in restaurants and most workplaces, but neighboring states Washington, Oregon, Montana and Utah go further, banning smoking statewide in bars as well. According to the American Nonsmokers' Rights Foundation, which tracks smoke-free laws, as of Oct. 7, there were 479 U.S. municipalities that banned smoking in all non-hospitality workplaces, restaurants and bars; Boise now joins that list.

Prior to the council's action, Idaho was one of just 12 states whose capital city still permitted smoking in bars. The City Council's vote on the bar smoking ban, which also covers bus stops, patios and other public places, was unanimous; there was just one dissenting vote on the ban for parks.

ISU students vote to back campus smoking ban

Here's a news item from the Associated Press:  POCATELLO, Idaho (AP) — Students at Idaho State University have voted to support a proposed smoking ban on the Pocatello campus. The existing university policy requires smokers to be at least 20 feet from buildings. School administrators sought feedback last year on the smoking policy and wondered if they should leave it unchanged, ban smoking or designate a few areas where smoking is allowed. The Associated Students of ISU to pass a resolution two weeks ago in support of making the campus smoke-free. The Idaho State Journal reports (http://bit.ly/rcEhih ) student president Shaun Stokes said the resolution was prompted by campus surveys and also driven by health concerns about secondhand smoke. Elsewhere in the state, the College of Southern Idaho, North Idaho College and Boise State University already have smoking bans in place.

New poll: Idahoans overwhelmingly back big hike in cigarette tax

A new poll conducted by Moore Information shows a startling 71 percent of Idahoans favor increases in state taxes on tobacco and alcohol to address Idaho’s budget deficit, and 73 percent support a $1.50 per pack increase in the cigarette tax to preserve Medicaid funding and fund tobacco-cessation and youth prevention programs. A broad coalition of Idaho health groups, from the American Cancer Society to the Idaho Medical Association to the Idaho Academy of Family Physicians, released the poll today and launched a new push for a big hike in Idaho’s cigarette tax in the coming year.

Dr. Ted Epperly, a family physician from Boise, said smoking is the No. 1 most preventable cause of death in the United States, yet 5,000 Idaho kids try their first cigarette each year and 1,500 Idahoans die from smoking each year. “By raising the state’s tobacco tax, Idaho will reduce smoking … especially among kids,” Epperly said. “The science could not be more clear.”

That’s not all - the groups project that a $1.50 per pack increase in Idaho’s cigarette tax also would bring in an additional $52.3 million to the state’s treasury, even after accounting for the drop in cigarette sales it’d bring about. That money, Epperly said, could help shore up Medicaid, “a program that is in crisis at this time.” Epperly said the state also would see reduced health care costs as the number of smokers drops - an estimated $8 million in savings just in the first five years.

Said Epperly, “This will be a huge win for Idaho’s public health.”

Like a forest fire…

I asked Mark Travers, a research scientist at the Roswell Park Cancer Institute, if the institute has done studies in other states like its examination of bar air quality in Idaho, and whether the results were comparable. The answer: Yes, in 35 other states. “The results in Idaho are very similar to what we’ve seen in other places,” he said. “The point is to try to bring to people’s attention just how bad the air quality is in an indoor place where you allow smoking. We spend a lot of time, effort and money monitoring and regulating that outdoor air … but we spend 90 percent of our time indoors, where the result can be much worse. It’s a result of being in an enclosed place and in close proximity to the source of the pollution, in this case, the cigarettes.”

The institute’s study found that air in Boise-area bars that permit smoking is 36 times worse that the area’s smog, that the air quality in those bars is in the “hazardous” range, and that workers in smoking-permitted bars are exposed to four times the EPA’s annual limit for fine-particulate pollution exposure. “The only time you would see outdoor air pollution that would be comparable to what we found in the Idaho bars would be during a forest fire,” Travers said.

Study: Bar air way worse than smog

Fine-particulate air pollution in Boise bars that permit smoking is 36 times worse than outdoor pollution levels in the valley, according to a new study by the Roswell Park Cancer Institute released today by the Coalition for a Healthy Idaho, and four times the EPA’s standard for annual exposure. Testers actually went into 19 bars and restaurants in Boise, Meridian and Garden City in May and June, operated air quality monitors, and recorded how many people were there and how many cigarettes were burning. “Sampling was discreet in order not to disturb the occupants’ normal behavior,” the study reports. Its conclusion: The second-hand smoke is a health threat to those who work in the bars.

“This study shows precisely why city councils in Idaho should implement comprehensive smokefree ordinances covering all indoor workplaces and all workers,” said Shauneen Grange, campaign coordinator for Smokefree Idaho, a group working for such bans. “The study demonstrates conclusively that the smokefree air law in Idaho is effectively protecting the health of workers and patrons from the health effects of exposure to secondhand smoke in restaurants, while those in smoking-permitted bars are still exposed to hazardous levels of air contaminants.”

Idaho law bans smoking in restaurants and, after lawmakers overrode a veto from Gov. Butch Otter, bowling alleys. But it doesn’t ban it in bars where no one under 21 is allowed in. The sampling took place at 14 bars where smoking is permitted, one where the bar has chosen not to allow smoking, and four restaurants. The smoking-permitted bars were in the “hazardous” air quality range, while the other bar and the restaurants were down in the good to moderate range.

Why Project Filter ran out of money

Idaho’s “Project Filter” is now once again offering four weeks of free nicotine replacement therapy to smokers who want to quit, after the program was suspended in May and June due to lack of money. The start of the state’s new budget year yesterday put the nicotine-replacement program back in place with the new fiscal year’s funding. It’s a popular program started in July of 2008, authorized by the state Legislature through the Millenium Fund (tobacco settlement money) and operated by the Idaho Department of Health & Welfare. But the demand for it soared in late spring after a big hike in the federal tobacco tax. That, in turn, caused a huge jump in the number of Idaho smokers who wanted to quit, according to Health & Welfare - and the rest of the year’s worth of funding was quickly used up.

Jack Miller, program manager for Project Filter, said, “We know that there are many Idahoans who are serious about quitting smoking. Once someone makes that decision that today is the day to quit, we’re here to help.” The replacement therapy includes a free four-week supply of nicotine patches, gum and lozenges. It’s available at (800) QUIT-NOW or www.idaho.quitnet.com.

More Idahoans trying to quit smoking

Soaring numbers of Idaho smokers are trying to kick the habit, the Idaho Department of Health & Welfare reports, to the point that they’ve used up the rest of the year’s worth of funding for a free nicotine replacement therapy program. Since last July, Project Filter has offered Idaho smokers who want to quit a free four-week supply of nicotine patches, gum and lozenges to help them stop smoking. There were 517 requests for that in January, but after the federal tobacco tax jumped, the number was up to 1,400 in March and 4,000 in April.That’s it now for the fiscal year; funding for nicotine replacement therapy won’t be available again until July 1, when the new budget year starts. Health & Welfare is encouraging smokers to quit now anyway; other resources remain available to help them. Click below to read their full news release.

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About this blog

Betsy Z. Russell covers Idaho news from The Spokesman-Review's bureau in Boise.

Named best state-based political blog in Idaho for 2013 by The Fix

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