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Oregon state parks consider ban on outdoor smoking

PARKS — The Oregon Parks and Recreation Department is holding four meetings this week for the public to comment on plans to ban outdoor smoking at state parks.  

The Statesman Journal reports the proposed ban would stop smoking on hiking trails, picnic areas, waysides and common areas of state campgrounds. People could still smoke in their cars, RVs or tents.   
 
Violators would face fines between $60 and $110.  
 
The parks commission will take up the rule at its February meeting. The ban wouldn’t take effect until 2015.  
 
Smoking is already banned in parks in 56 cities and counties across Oregon. 

Did you ever…

…work in an office where someone smoked cigars?

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.

Can you remember in-flight smoking?

Does it seem incredible to you that it was ever OK?

You don't have to bash smokers to shake your head in wonder that the airlines seemed oblivious to the fact that a fair number of travelers had respiratory conditions.

And passengers today complain about crying babies.

Kevin Ellison to stay in jail without bail

A pro football player who claims God told him to start a fire at his apartment complex in Liberty Lake will remain in jail amid concerns about his mental health.

Kevin Marcus Ellison, 25, who was dismissed from the Spokane Shock arena football team after his arrest June 14, repeatedly claimed to be Jesus Christ, including to an elderly woman who was at the hospital when Ellison was treated for smoke inhalation, said Assistant U.S. Attorney Aine Ahmed.

“He may have some mental issues,” Ahmed said.

Ellison also told Shock general manager Ryan Rigmaiden “that he was Jesus Christ, and that he was part of the rapture, and that God told him to start the fire,” Ahmed said. “He did not believe it (the fire) was going to harm him because God told him he'd protect him.”

Ellison told Rigmaiden he started the fire with a marijuana blunt.

Ellison, a former standout defense back for the University of Southern California Trojans, pleaded not guilty Tuesday to a grand jury indictment charging him with malicious use of fire to damage commercial property. He faces five to 20 years in prison if convicted.

His public defender, Kim Deater, asked for Ellison to be allowed to leave jail and live with his mother and brother in Los Angeles, though she said they wants him to undergo mental health treatment.

“They think that might be an issue,” Deater said.

Deater described Ellison as “a good friend, a good teammate, a good son, a good player.”

She said his success in football shows he can work toward a goal with a large group of people.

“That takes cooperation, that takes a bond, and that takes character,” Deater said.

She also said Ellison did not tell the elderly woman at the hospital that he was Jesus - he simply grasped her hand and prayed with her.

But Imbrogno ordered Ellison to stay in the Spokane County Jail after Ahmed described a series of bizarre behavior that included statements from a Shock dancer who said she fears Ellison.

“She became afraid of Mr. Ellison after he texted her specifically that he was Jesus Christ,” Ahmed said.

The woman, who was not identified, also said Ellison asked her to marry him just moments after meeting her.

He said Ellison's roommate, Chris Tucker, told investigators that Ellison told him he'd been Baptized just a few days before the fire. Tucker also said Ellison had offered him Vicodin to ease his pain while at an away game in Chicago recently.

It was Tucker who first realized there was a fire in the apartment he shared with Ellison.

The defensive lineman for the Shock told investigators he first thought the smoke was from burning food. He even took the batteries out of the smoke detector in his bedroom before he realized the fire was coming from Ellison's room, Ahmed said. He alerted Ellison to the fire, but Ellison told him “I'm good.” and didn't leave.

Ellison escaped the fire by jumping from a window of the third-floor apartment. The fire caused about $100,000 in damage. Ahmed emphasized that children live next door to Ellison's apartment.

Ellison was drafted in the sixth round by the San Diego Chargers in 2009. He was released by the team following a May 2010 arrest in San Diego on a controlled-substance charge after police reportedly found 100 Vicodin tablets in his car without a prescription. The charges was dropped.

Ellison joined the Seattle Seahawks but was released shortly before the 2010 season opener.

Shock player: God told me to start fire

A pro football player who leapt from his burning third-floor apartment in Liberty Lake Thursday said he started the blaze with a marijuana blunt because God told him to, authorities say.

 Kevin Marcus Ellison, 25, a starting linebacker/defensive back for the Spokane Shock arena football team, initially told firefighters that he’d been smoking in bed, but evidence collected at the scene didn’t match that explanation, said Spokane Valley Fire Marshal Kevin Miller.

Read the rest of the story here.

Quit smoking initiatives saved nearly 800,000 lives

Good news today from the National Institutes of Health:

Twentieth-century tobacco control programs and policies were responsible for preventing more than 795,000 lung cancer deaths in the United States from 1975 through 2000, according to an analysis funded by the National Cancer Institute (NCI), part of the National Institutes of Health.If all cigarette smoking in this country had ceased following the release of the first Surgeon General's report on smoking and health in 1964, a total of 2.5 million people would have been spared from death due to lung cancer in the 36 years following that report, according to the analysis. The results of this study were published online March 14, 2012, in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

(Spokesman-Review archives photo)

Agree or disagree

The idea that someone could be a “secret smoker” is totally ludicrous because the telltale smell can be detected from a mile away. 

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.

Tenn. officer fired for smoking in precinct

Tenn. police officer fired for smoking in precinct

NEWBERN, Tenn. (AP) — A Tennessee police department says it has fired an officer after 17 years on the force because he repeatedly smoked cigarettes inside the precinct in violation of the city's no smoking policy.

Newbern police Sgt. James Bishop was terminated last week. A 2007 city policy prohibits smoking inside all municipal offices and buildings.

According to the termination letter obtained by the State Gazette, Police Chief Harold Dunivant said he had complaints that his employees were smoking inside their offices and issued a warning that disciplinary action could be taken (http://bit.ly/yAUKOE).

Dunivant said he continued to get complaints about Bishop smoking indoors and was forced to fire him.

A phone number that the city of Newbern had on record Bishop him was disconnected, and messages left by The Associated Press at other listings for James Bishop weren't immediately returned.

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.

Another good reason to quit smoking

Quitting can lengthen your life, lessen health woes and make you smell better, too.

And today, yet one more reason from HealthDay.

It may help improve your everyday memory. The team at Northumbria University in Newcastle, the United Kingdom, gave memory tests to 27 smokers, 18 former-smokers and 24 never-smokers. The test involved remembering to do assigned tasks at different locations on the university campus. Smokers remembered only 59 percent of the tasks, compared with 74 percent for former-smokers and 81 percent for never-smokers.

My father, a Winston two-pack-a-dayer, gave it up the day a friend died of smoking-related lung cancer and never smoked one more cigarette. I've always been in awe of his willpower.

What finally got you to quit smoking?

(Photo of my dad, Joe Nappi, circa 1960s. Cigarette was likely in the hand not showing)

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.

Tacoma hospital group won’t hire smokers

Ronnie Taylor  left, and Brendan Green take a smoking break outside Big John’s pool hall in Omaha, Neb.

SEATTLE — Starting next month, a group of five hospitals in the south Puget Sound area will no longer hire smokers. The Franciscan Health System says it will screen applicants for nicotine.

Chief operating officer Cliff Robertson says it's going to “walk the talk” about creating healthier communities.

KOMO reports Franciscan is the first member of the Washington State Hospital Association to require job applicants to be nicotine-free. The Tacoma-based group has 8,100 employees in three counties. Read more.

Is this a good idea?

Obama Quits

WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama has finally done what millions of fellow Americans are still struggling to achieve – he’s given up smoking.

“Yes, he has,” his wife, Michelle, said Tuesday at the White House when asked whether he had conquered a nicotine habit that began as a teenager. “It’s been almost a year,” she said, offering no details on exactly when or how he quit.

But is the breakup with tobacco final? One in five adults, about 46 million people, still smoke, and brain research shows that nicotine is powerfully addictive. Three out of four smokers who try to kick the habit relapse within six months. More. 

Have you ever quit smoking? How did you do it?

Once the smoke clears

Watching Spokane County commissioners Tuesday evening as they agreed to  ban the sale of electronic cigarettes to minors, I was struck by the fact that here you have three middle-aged male Republicans, all of whom avoided ever becoming smokers.

That's a remarkable change from my own coming of age, which is somewhat  further removed than theirs.  I could also identify with the comments Al French and Mark Richard made about living in smoke-clouded homes.  But when they recalled having to go outside to get fresh air, my memories differed.  Like a fish that doesn't realize it's wet, I was never aware that I was in a fouled environment.  That was just the way things were.

Only years later, when I was married and in my own household did I begin to notice the smell and other evidence of smoking — in elevators, on clothing, even in my wife's hair after she'd returned from a meeting or social event that included smokers.

Maybe we're making modest progress.

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.”

Health district on the hunt for workplace smoking

The Spokane Regional Health District has begun its own kind of emphasis patrol, seeking to find, educate and if necessary, punish businesses that violate the state’s Smoking in Public Places law. The health district is adding a part-time staffer to investigate an additional 40 complaints a month.

The law, which took effect in 2005, made it illegal to smoke inside any public building or place of employment, and within 25 feet of entrances, exits, windows that open, and ventilation intakes. The public is encouraged to report businesses that aren’t complying, at (509) 232-1707, or online at www.srhd.org/services/tobaccolaw.asp

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.

Anti-smoking advocates call for a $1-a-pack tax hike on cigarettes…

The American Heart Association, cancer society, and the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids are calling for $1-a-pack tax hike on cigarettes, saying that less smoking saves the state a lot of money on health costs.

“It’s not about revenue, it’s about health savings,” state Sen. Rodney Tom said in a press release minutes ago. Tom, D-Medina, today introduced Senate Bill 5626.

“The societal cost of a pack of cigarettes is over $15,” he said. “So we’re subsidizing smoking.”

Washington already charges a fifth-highest-in-the-nation cigarette tax of $20.25 a carton, plus sales tax. This would add $10 per carton to that.

Tom’s bill would steer the additional money into anti-tobacco programs, the state’s general fund, a water quality fund, a violence-reduction and drug-enforcement account, a fund for schools, and anything left over would go to the state’s health services account.

Proponents say the changes would mean nearly $100 million a year in new taxes and would reduce smoking.

 

Smokin’ Hot (Not!)

In the same way the smell of smoke from someone’s hair, clothes, house, or car upsets the senses, the brain is affected by this invisible residue, recently labeled third-hand smoke, as well.

Loads of heavy metal (and we’re not talkin’ music!), carcinogens, hazardous chemicals, and radioactive materials cling onto people and their possessions.  This invisible residue is a recipe for disaster because it can be easily ingested to cause damage. 

Children are especially at risk.  Parents might smoke while their children are away and out of the house, and they don’t witness any visible damage in doing so.  By playing in a space where someone has smoked, kids are exposed to third-hand smoke.

Be sure to visit the article, “A New Cigarette Hazard: ‘Third-Hand Smoke,’” from the New York Times.