Stricter smoking ban set for federal offices
A new policy will restrict government employees from smoking in and near federal buildings. Since a 1997 executive order from President Clinton, smoking has been limited to designated smoking rooms and smoking areas, which according to critics, still places employees and passers-by at a significant risk for secondhand smoke exposure. Under the new law, smoking will be prohibited indoors, in courtyards, and within 25 feet of doorways and air intake ducts. The law does not apply to residences, such as Federal prisons, and employee unions retain the right to negotiate the implementation of the new law. The policy change will take effect within six months. The new policy was put on the books by the General Services Administration, and was based on recommendations from the Federal Management Regulation Evaluation Review Panel. The law is in line with the 26 states that have banned smoking in state government buildings, and nineteen that have banned smoking in all workplaces. Read more here.
Democrats plan an early push against tobacco
Congress is expected to move quickly in the upcoming months against the tobacco industry. Several new policies that were opposed by the Bush administration are expected to pass in 2009 under President Obama who supported the measures as a senator. Some of the policies expected are further cigarette regulations, raising per pack sales taxes, and ratifying an international anti tobacco treaty. Legislation that would give the Food and Drug Administration authority over tobacco for the first time and is one of the first steps regarding tobacco control anticipated under the new administration. Click here for more details about expected measures.
Kennedy wants cigarette risks regulated in Obama backed bill
Senator Edward Kennedy will be introducing legislation that will provide the U.S. Food and Drug Administration the authority to regulate the health risks of smoking. He sponsored a similar proposal that failed last year due to a threatened veto by President Bush but the legislation is expected to be supported by the upcoming administration. Click here to read more.
No smoking in most of Belmont, not even at home (CA)
The city of Belmont, CA recently extended its smoking bans to apartments and condos. The law is the first of its kind in California and bans smoking in any multistory, multiunit dwellings. The law is intended to be complaint driven meaning it is up to neighbors to notify officials if the ban is being violated. The fine for each violation is $100. Click here to read more.
L.A. may restrict outdoor smoking (CA)
Legislators in Los Angeles are considering following the lead of fellow cities Santa Monica and Beverly Hills by enacting a new ban on smoking on restaurant patios or within 10 feet of any indoor establishment that serves food or beverages. Councilman, Greig Smith proposed the legislation after observing that the current indoor ban only drove smokers outside exposing children and patrons to second-hand smoke as they enter and exit a facility. Venues that only serve those over the age of 18 and bars with outdoor areas would be exempt. If the law is approved, it could become effective as early as this summer. Click here to read more.
Dissent dilutes Iowa’s smoking ban (IA)
Despite a ban in Iowa that restricts smoking in bars, many have blatantly defied the ban because they are aware that local authorities are not enforcing the law. The Iowa Smoke-free Air Act went into effect in July 2008 but only state level authorities have been attempting to punish those who violate it. Local authorities cite many excuses for the lack of enforcement including confusion about their role, the expense of enforcement and a general distaste for the new law. State officials are currently working to clear up the confusion and gain state and local cooperation in enforcing the smoke-free laws. Click here to read more.
Smoking ban enforcement measure passes Illinois House: Proposal would provide administrative process for punishing violators (IL)
Enforcement of the smoking ban in public places in Illinois last year remained lax due to a lack of guidance from the state and the unpopularity of the ban in some areas. In hopes of changing this, the Illinois House has voted to amend the ban by specifying how violations are to be handled. The amendment states that violations are civil matters and an administrative process will be put into place and managed through the Illinois Department of Public Health. Violations will hold a penalty of $100-$250 for individual smokers and $250 for businesses. The bill is heading to the Senate this week. Click here to read more.
Lawmaker: Ban smoking at state park beaches (ME)
Currently in Maine, smoking is banned in most public places including restaurants, bars, public buildings, workplaces, school campuses, and personal vehicles if children are present but Senator John Nutting has proposed a new ban that would also prohibit smoking at all of Maine’s state park beaches. Sen. Nutting decided that the proposal was necessary after receiving many complaints from his constituents about the cigarette butts at the local beaches. Some of the beaches have cigarette butt disposal units but they are often unused by smokers who prefer to just drop their cigarette butts on the beach. The bill, LD 67, would make it illegal to smoke at any of Maine’s salt or freshwater beaches that are located at the state parks but would not affect other areas of the parks. Click here to read more.
Smoke ban bill is Paul Scott’s first order of business (MI)
Representative Paul Scott will be introducing a bill to the Michigan House of Representatives that would ban smoking in all public places in the state without exceptions. A similar bill was introduced into the Senate last legislative session. It passed in the Senate but did not make it out of the House where Representatives wanted to add multiple exceptions. Governor Jennifer Granholm has claimed that she would pass any smoking bill that comes across her desk. Click here to read more.
Legislature overrides county executive’s veto on Tobacco 19 (NY)
Onondaga County executive Joanie Mahoney attempted to veto the Tobacco 19 law that is scheduled to go into effect on March 2nd. This law will make it illegal for vendors to sell tobacco products to eighteen year olds. Legislators voted 14 to 5 to override the veto. Proponents say this law will prevent eighteen year old high school students from giving cigarettes to younger students. Click here for more information.
State restaurants oppose move to abolish smoking rooms (OK)
Senator David Meyers has filed a bill that is strongly opposed by the Oklahoma Restaurant Association. Senate Bill 1036 would abolish separate smoking rooms by September 1, 2010 and bans new or existing restaurants from adding smoking rooms after September 1, 2009. Senator Meyers is willing to negotiate the timeframe and realizes that it will be a tough bill to pass. He had introduced a bill last legislative session to ban smoking in all restaurants, bars, taverns and hotels that did not pass. The legislation that permitted restaurants to build smoking rooms was passed in 2003. According to Benny Vanatta, a lobbyist for the Oklahoma Restaurant Association, many venues spent a significant amount of money to implement these designated smoking rooms and he does not think that the Legislature will support a bill that could hurt businesses with the current economic situation. Myers does not agree that the bill will hurt the restaurant business. Click here to read more.
Ban on workplace smoking in Oregon expands to bars and restaurants (OR)
The state of Oregon has expanded their workplace ban that was put into place in 2001 to now include bars and restaurants. The new ban prohibits smoking in almost all indoor worksites. Smoking will also no longer be permitted within 10 feet of any doors or windows and hotels must have at least 75% non-smoking rooms. Tribal establishments will be excluded from the ban. Businesses that violate the ban can be fined up to $500 per day and $2000 per month. Click here to read more.
Greenleaf plans bill to toughen smoke ban (PA)
Just months after Pennsylvania’s workplace smoking ban went into effect, Senator Stewart Greenleaf, author of the smoke-free law, announced plans to tighten the law. Greenleaf’s proposal would remove the smoke-free law’s exemptions that allow smoking in bars with less than 20% of profits from food sales and casinos. In addition, municipalities would be allowed to pass and enforce bans stricter than the state law. His rationale in removing the exemptions is to create a level playing field among businesses and to improve the ease of enforcing the smoke-free law. Click here for more information.
Houston senator to provide statewide smoking ban (TX)
State Senator Rodney Ellis is filing legislation for a statewide workplace smoking ban similar to the ban currently in place in Houston. The new law would ban smoking in all indoor workplaces. Click here to read more.
Lawmakers to file statewide smoking ban proposal (TX)
State Representatives Crownover and Denton will be filing same legislation in the House of Representatives that Senator Ellis is filing in the Senate. Click here to read more.
‘Momentum’ seen for smoke-free restaurants (VA)
Virginia Governor Timothy Kaine announced his continued bid to ban smoking in restaurants in the state. Kaine states that his recent discussions with leaders from both parties have given him hope that this year could be the year the ban passes. House leaders are planning to end the practice of holding unrecorded committee votes making representatives accountable for yes-no votes. This current practice aided in the smoke-free bills defeat in the past. Kaine also anticipates more extensive smoking bans within the state and less active opposition from Republican leaders. Last year was the fourth consecutive year that the ban was defeated. Click here to read more.
Washington proposal would ban internet tobacco sales (WA)
Rob Mckenna, Washington’s Attorney General, has proposed a ban on the sale of tobacco products over the internet in his 2009 legislative agenda. The ban would not allow the purchase or sale of tobacco products over the internet or by mail order except to licensed retailers or wholesalers. Mckenna claims the ban would correct a current loophole in the state’s laws. Click here to read more.
Law would mean no smoking with kids in car (WA)
Some lawmakers are looking to expand smoking legislation in Olympia, Washington that would restrict tobacco users from smoking in their personal vehicles when children are present. This would expand a program that currently exists in Tacoma and Pierce County. Supporters are currently looking for sponsors for the proposed legislation for the upcoming session. Click here to read more. Click here to watch a news report about this smoking ban proposal. Several other states are lobbying for similar measures. Click here to read about similar proposed legislation in North Dakota. The Tennessee Medical Association is lobbying for the state’s legislators to adopt a similar proposal. Click here to read more.
Partial smoking ban in Austria: Same difference, say critics (Austria)
Austria’s partial smoking ban took effect on January 1, amid criticisms of its exemptions and allowances that could allow smoking in public to remain virtually unchanged. The law will allow smaller establishments (under 50 square meters) to decide whether to allow smoking, but larger establishments must make at least 50% of their premises smoke-free. Partitions for smoke-free areas must be in place by July 1, 2010, but smoking can be permitted in all areas until then. For now, businesses will post signs at their entrance to make their smoking status clear to patrons. According to a survey by the Austrian chamber of commerce, two thirds of bars, clubs, and cafes intend to permit smoking. According to Health Minister Alois Stoeger, the government will take a wait-and-see approach to the law, by potentially reviewing the policy after one year. Read more here.
Call for smoking ban at 2010 expo (China)
Chinese legislator, Feng Danlong, has called for a smoking ban in public places in Shanghai. She is also recommending additional restrictions including removing and banning all cigarette advertisements and improving the visibility of tobacco warnings that are currently on cigarette packs in China. The legislator hopes to have these bans in place for the Shanghai World Expo that kicks off in May 2010. Since 1994, regulations have been in place in Shanghai to control smoking in public places but stricter laws are being drafted. Last year, a ban on smoking in taxi cabs was passed and a law is in the works to prohibit smoking in any public space with a ceiling. China is thought to have the largest smoking population globally with an estimated 350 million smokers. Click here to read more.
Taiwan bans indoor smoking (Taiwan)
Taiwan is now one of 17 countries to ban smoking in indoor public places. This new rule will ban smoking in all indoor facilities such as stores, restaurants, theatres, airports, railway stations and working environments where three or more people work together. Violators are penalized with a fine that ranges from $60 to $100. In addition, this rule also has restrictions for cigarette vendors. Shops are no longer permitted to display cigarettes where customers can reach them. Taipei already restricts smoking in taxi cabs and beginning in July 2009, the ban will expand to 24 public parks. Click here to read more.
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