Archive for Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Bill would let counties decide bans on smoking

Lawrence ordinance would be unaffected

January 30, 2008


Bill to offer vote on state smoking ban

In news out of the Kansas statehouse tonight, three senators, including two doctors, push to snuff out smoking across the state. Enlarge video

— One way or another, health advocates and a group of legislators are trying to get Kansans to quit smoking.

On Tuesday, several senators introduced legislation that would allow voters to decide in November whether to ban smoking in public places in their counties.

"I believe this bill will save tens of thousands of Kansas lives," said state Sen. David Wysong, R-Mission Hills, one of the sponsors of the measure.

In addition to a smoking ban, health care advocates also are pushing for a 50-cent increase in the state tax on each pack of cigarettes that would continue to increase with the rate of inflation.

Dr. Roy Jensen, director of Kansas University Cancer Care Center, made an impassioned plea for both the ban and cigarette tax increase.

"I cannot think of two proposals that are more critical to reducing the death and terrible affliction of tobacco-induced cancer in this state," Jensen said.

But both measures face uphill fights in the Kansas Legislature. Many lawmakers oppose a tax increase, especially in an election year, and many oppose a smoking ban, saying it infringes on the rights of business owners.

Approximately 4,000 Kansans die each year from tobacco-related illnesses, and treatment of smoking-related illnesses costs about $1 billion in Kansas annually.

The proposed smoking ban was introduced in the Senate Judiciary Committee. A hearing is expected in the next week or so.

Under the measure, each county will have on the Nov. 8 general election ballot the question of whether to ban smoking in public places, such as restaurants and bars.

State Sen. Jim Barnett, R-Emporia, who is also a physician, said, "I've already had patients tell me they are planning to stop smoking because of this bill."

Wysong said allowing voters to decide the issue in each county was the most politically expedient way in the Legislature to get a ban in place. He said polls show that most Kansans approve of smoking bans, citing concerns about the health effects of second-hand smoke.

Last year, Wysong's proposal to simply enact a statewide smoking ban didn't get any traction in the Legislature.

Under the bill, if voters in Douglas County rejected a smoking ban, the smoking ban already in effect in Lawrence would remain in place, he said.

The city of Lawrence has banned smoking in nearly all indoor workplaces for more than three years. The city ordinance was challenged and ruled constitutional in June by the Kansas Supreme Court.

Wysong said the ban also would apply to proposed casinos, a move the gambling industry has opposed in the past. The proposal, however, would allow hotels and motels to reserve 20 percent of their rooms for smoking.


JSpizias 10 years, 4 months ago

Recently, both the KC Star and the NY Times published an article that a smoking ban in Indiana had resulted in a 70% decrease in the incidence of MI's. The Star editorialized about how this proved the extreme dangers of secondhand smoke and called once again for a ban on smoking in KC and the region. The NY Times wrote an article about the same study which is here (note their heading title, theirs was a well done report on the study). Report Says Smoking Ban Helps to Cut Heart Attacks Since there are many studies that show that suggest the hazard ratio for exposure to second hand smoke is only 1.1 to 1.2, this made no sense to me. I tried to get the journal via a University Medical Center and they didn't even carry the journal that published the study. I then wrote to Michael Siegel, one of the leading researchers on the hazards of second hand smoke at Boston U and he sent me a copy of the paper. His address and credentials are here: After reading the article I felt there were serious flaws in the data and the conclusions. If one reads the NY Times article one finds out how they arrived at the figure of a 70% reduction.
Siegel has become very concerned about the gross distortion of the science of secondhand smoke by political groups lobbying for a ban and feels, as do I, that this damages the credibility of science and public health.

Below are URLs from a blog which Siegel has established that I would urge you examine for yourself.

For the record, I do not smoke, have never smoked or had research support from any tobacco company. My wife and I do not allow smoking in our home. I have read extensively on the topic of effects of secondhand smoking on the cardiovascular system (a system upon which I did research for several years) including the relevant sections of the most recent Surgeon General's report. For those who wish to examine some of the data see the paper by Wen et al that appeared in The British Medical Journal (2006) entitled "Environmental tobacco smoke and mortality in Chinese Women who have never smoked: a prospective cohort study". Look carefully at Table 4 and the confidence intervals.

JSpizias 10 years, 4 months ago

Correction: The NY Times report deals with a similar study done in New York regarding the effects of secondhand smoking, not the Indiana study. It predates the Indiana study but explains the reasoning used to come to such conclusions.

jaycat 10 years, 4 months ago

lets ban stupid people too. if you can't read a sign that says smoking allowed, then you deserve to inhale second hand smoke. if I own the business then I have just as many freedoms as do you. if I choose not to let you use my rest-room & let you p*** your self, so be it. take your self and go to the nonsmoking business, but leave mine alone, I have plenty of business to keep me going & I don't need yours. There are plenty of businesses that are going to nonsmoking on there own, we don't need big brother micro-managing us all. if they are going to ban smoking then they better ban farting too.

staff04 10 years, 4 months ago

Those "small government" Republicans are at it again...

bugmenot 10 years, 4 months ago

Oh my God, this is so not an issue about "bar owners' rights," and you all know that. Are you opposed to health codes for restaurants? No. The health and safety of other workers and other patrons wins the day. Same is true for the smoking ban.

By the way, where were you "champions of civil rights" when the Bush Administration wiretapped phones illegally?

It's a sham pro-smokers' argument.

bugmenot 10 years, 4 months ago

Or, you could get over the fact smoking is banned in public places and pick your lazy self up to go outside and smoke.

I love the accusation that because non-smokers (!) are the ones who lack personal responsibility.

Erin Parmelee 10 years, 4 months ago

I'm sorry, but how can anyone whine about this? I think letting the voting public decide speaks volumes about what people want. Come on smokers--get behind democracy. ;)

SettingTheRecordStraight 10 years, 4 months ago

There goes our government again. Trying to change behavior through force and control rather than changing hearts and minds.

bugmenot 10 years, 4 months ago

If saying to people "you are going to die a long, scary, painful, expensive death if you don't stop smoking" doesn't get them to quit, I hardly think making them smoke outside will. It's not about the government trying to get people to quit; the government doesn't want that. They want the tax money you pay them for those cigarettes.

mistygreen 10 years, 4 months ago

I think smoking should be banned in all public places!

What about the people that have health conditions that do not allow them to be in a smoking enviornment, like a casino? Why do we as non-smokers with respiratory problems have to suffer at the slot machine when some elderly smoker hauling an oxygen tank sits down next to us? (Believe me it happens!) We have a choice not to go, but for the occasional gambler having a night out at the casino can be a lot of fun. We have a choice, but it seems as though the smokers have a louder voice when it comes to casinos.

Is your "RIGHT" to smoke more important than my "RIGHT" to breath?

Erin Parmelee 10 years, 4 months ago

Marion (Marion Lynn) says:

I am certain that the "smoking gun" of the Hookah Bar will also be sighted down by a court of compentent jurisdiction in the near future, which could lead to complete overturning of the ban due to selective enforcement.

That's a pipe dream (ha ha, no pun intended). The hookah bar might get shut down, but not the other way around.

jaycat 10 years, 4 months ago

you want fresh air go out side a breath it, me i like it a little cloudy. besides if i go out side i'd pollute your clean air.

JSpizias 10 years, 4 months ago

Burned out by butt-inskis Boston ^ | May 20, 2006 | Michael Siegel

As a physician who has devoted 21 years to advocacy in tobacco control, conducting research and publishing a number of studies on the hazards of secondhand smoke, it is not surprising that I favor a wide range of anti-smoking measures. But anti-smoking tactics adopted by some municipalities, companies and organizations do not serve smokers or the public. The methods are mean-spirited, unsupported by science and attempt to stamp out smoking by punishing and marginalizing smokers. They go too far.

The City Council in Calabasas, Calif., recently enacted an ordinance - supported by several anti-smoking groups - that bans smoking in just about all outdoor areas of the city, including streets and sidewalks, unless there is no other person within 20 feet.

The expressed purposes of the ordinance are to protect nonsmokers from exposure to secondhand smoke and to reduce "the potential for children to associate smoking and tobacco with a healthy lifestyle."

The hazards of exposure to smoking in the workplace have been proven, but there is no scientific evidence that shows that small, transient exposures to secondhand smoke in outdoor areas - places where people can easily avoid prolonged exposure - represent any serious public health problem.

The argument that these policies are needed to prevent children from seeing people smoke in public would ostracize citizens for pursuing a legal activity. What comes next? Laws that ban fat people from the public square so that children won't associate obesity with public acceptability? Laws that prohibit people from eating fast food in public so children won't see this behavior and associate it with a healthy lifestyle?

Frustrated by its inability to outlaw smoking, this arm of the anti-smoking front seeks to outlaw smokers. I'm all for efforts that make smoking seem less glamorous, desirable or cool, but it is wrong to restrict people's rights because you do not like what they do.

JSpizias 10 years, 4 months ago

Michael Siegel continued:

Equally disturbing is another trend applauded by the anti-smoking movement that would have employers fire or refuse to hire smokers. According to Action on Smoking and Health (ASH), a Washington, D.C.-based anti-smoking organization: "Firing smokers is an appropriate and very effective way to stop burdening the great majority of employees who wisely chose not to smoke with the enormous unnecessary costs of smoking by their fellow employees."

Michigan-based Weyco Inc., announced a policy of denying employment to smokers last year, and it has been followed by the World Health Organization, Scotts Miracle-Gro, Crown Laboratories, the city of Melbourne, Fla., and Truman Medical Centers in Kansas City, Mo.

ASH, along with these employers, argues that these policies are appropriate because they will reduce the increased health care costs associated with smoking. But what they also do is make smokers second-class citizens, depriving them of the right to make a living to support themselves and their families.

Is ASH serious? Should smokers not be allowed to hold jobs? Does it somehow promote public health to make the families of smokers go hungry? Should our society have two distinct classes, one that can work and another which cannot, simply because of a lawful, off-the-job behavior?

An appropriate public health policy for work-site health promotion would provide smoking employees with smoking-cessation programs, not fire them.

I fear that the anti-smoking movement is on the verge of running amok. Ultimately, what is at stake is the credibility of the tobacco-control movement, as well as the integrity of its evidence-based approach to the protection of the public's health. If we lose that, then the truly legitimate, science-based aspects of tobacco control will be undermined. And then it will become difficult, if not impossible, to advance any policies to protect the public from the hazards of tobacco. TOPICS: Culture/Society; Government;

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