Letters to the Editor

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SMOKING: Cigar bar bill threatens our health

Letter by L.M. Hedegaard, Puyallup on May 11, 2011 at 11:36 am | 21 Comments »
May 11, 2011 11:36 am

In 2005, voters in all 39 Washington counties voted to pass Initiative 901, our clean indoor air law. Since that time, the state of Washington has had one of the most effective clean indoor air laws in the country. Together, we have saved lives by eliminating exposure to secondhand smoke in public places.

Now the supporters of Senate Bill 5542 are poised to change all that. They want to weaken our clean indoor act by allowing exemptions for cigar bars and cigar retailers. These businesses would pay a fee to allow smoking within their establishments, once again exposing employees to secondhand smoke. Adjoining businesses would also be exposed to the harmful carcinogens wafting through their shared overhead air space.

And, in a bizarre twist of legislation, the proposed Senate budget has eliminated funding for Washington’s successful tobacco prevention and control program, instead allowing the sole funding for tobacco cessation to come from license fees for cigar bars.

Quit assistance for tobacco users should not be tied to increased secondhand smoke in our public places. The small amount of money generated by the fees would be a drop in the bucket compared to the tremendous cost to people’s health and to our health-care system.

Our legislators must heed the will of the people so clearly stated in 2005. Keep Washington smoke-free by opposing SB 5542. The tobacco industry is behind this fight; don’t let them win the battle for our health.

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