Archive for Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Smoking strategy

Letting counties across the state vote on a smoking ban may be the best option.

February 13, 2008


Although a statewide ban on smoking in public places has a certain appeal, letting each Kansas county vote on whether to institute such a ban may be a more practical and realistic approach.

The Kansas Senate Judiciary Committee is hearing testimony this week on a bill that would place a smoking ban measure on the ballot in all Kansas counties on Nov. 8. Residents in each county would be asked whether they wanted to opt out of a statewide ban on smoking in most public places, including workplaces, restaurants, bars and casinos. Communities, like Lawrence, that already have smoking bans could keep their existing ordinances or accept the statewide standards.

Although the committee had yet to hear from opponents to the bill, its chairman predicted Tuesday that the measure would be endorsed by the panel next week.

Proponents of a mandatory statewide ban may be disappointed by the county option plan, but sponsors of the bill have said they believe including a county-by-county vote is necessary to gain passage in the Legislature.

A statewide smoking ban would have the advantage of providing consistent regulations across the state, but forcing every county to put this measure on the ballot still is a powerful step. First, it raises the issue in all 105 counties rather than leaving it to individuals to create their own proposals and mount a successful campaign. It also puts the burden on opponents of the smoking ban because unless a majority of voters rejects the ban, it automatically will go into effect.

Perhaps the best part, however, is that it provides for a countywide referendum on smoking in public places rather than leaving it to local officials to decide the issue. Because the vote will be at the same time as a presidential election, which traditionally draws a large turnout, it will give the best possible measure of public opinion on whether to institute a smoking ban.

Those testifying in favor of this bill point out that approximately 4,000 Kansans die each year from tobacco-related illnesses, and treatment of smoking-related illnesses costs Kansans about $1 billion a year. Lawrence's experience with a smoking ban confirms that the action is greatly appreciated by many residents and hasn't had the devastating effect on business that some had predicted.

If the county-by-county vote is approved, it will be interesting to see how many Kansas counties accept a smoking ban. The county option plan gives Kansas residents the opportunity to participate in the decision and may turn out to have almost as great an effect as a statewide ban.


BillHannegan 10 years, 4 months ago

Letter sent to Senate Judiciary Committee:

Members of Senate Judiciary Committee:

The argument you heard today from Dr. Meyers contending that smoking bans reduce heart attack rates in communities that enact them is bogus. The largest study of the real world effects of smoking bans demonstrated that though smoking bans displace smokers, they do not decrease the overall smoke exposure of nonsmokers in communities that enact them. So it is implausible that a smoking ban could influence the overall heart attack rate of a community.

Senators, the only way to determine the effect of smoking bans on heart attack rates is to compare whole states before and after bans. (Towns the size of Pueblo and Helena are too small to yeild significant results.) Researchers David Kuneman and Michael McFadden did just this in a study literally a thousand times larger than the Pueblo or Helena studies Dr. Meyers mentioned to you. Smoking bans were found to have no influence on heart attack rates across whole states.

Furthermore, heart attack rates naturally fluctuate. For instance, the Nebraska heart attack rate fell 28.5 percent between the years 2003 and 2004, yet it had no smoking ban in either year. I am afraid public health groups are sifting thru the hospital records looking for small communities where a drop in the heart attack rate coincides with the start of a smoking ban as in order to strengthen their argument for a smoking ban.

I felt obligated to warn you that you have received deceptive testimony.


Bill Hannegan

down_the_river 10 years, 4 months ago

If you would believe the jabberwocky presented by the public health employees at the Senate hearing on smoking bans (and repeated in this editorial) we're in for some big changes. By eliminating the supposed $1 Billion health expense in Kansas, we'll be able to close LMH and seven similar sized facilities in the state. All those employees will be able to get jobs in the booming bar businesses in our state that will be packed with desperate non-smokers who have been waiting 50 years to be able to go out for drinks. Without smoking, we'll have a hundred thousand more Kansans living til 86 rather than kicking off at 79. So the bars that cater to seniors will really see a boom.

Never mind the fact that longer lived non-smokers incur greater health costs than the average smoker. Never mind the fact that smoking bans don't eliminate smoking. If we want to eliminate smoking, don't be timid. Outlaw it. We did it in Kansas 100 years ago with the Carry Nation legacy, we can do it again. Or is this timid smoking ban proposal from the public health employees predicated on their knowledge that if we actually eliminated smoking and lost the $200 million in cigarette revenue, they would be victims of the budget cuts? Ban tobacco, or back off. You know you want to! Don't be timid, have some courage, be honest, toss aside your deceits. It will do wonders for your stress levels.

Sigmund 10 years, 4 months ago

Allow the citizens to vote? Don't be silly, that is crazy talk!

pusscanthropus 10 years, 4 months ago

Actually smoking--as we know it--has only been around for about 500 hundred years. The Native Americans introduced it to Christopher Columbus and that's how tobacco abuse started around the world. Columbus brought tobacco back to Spain, and then it began to be traded around the world. In a way, I believe it's karma on an historical level. Kinda like the Native Americans (who reverred and did not abuse tobacco) got back at us for wiping out most of their populations with our guns and diseases! Instead of us celebrating Columbus for "discovering" America, we should blame him for starting the tobacco trade!

Flap Doodle 10 years, 4 months ago

snap writes:

marioni wrote: "Go get stuffed."






Flap Doodle 10 years, 4 months ago

snap writes:












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