Thursday, May 31, 2007

First up, SB150 author, Senator Fred Risser

Senator Risser was first to testify, explaining to the committee that this is a health issue, not a marketing issue. Society has a duty and obligation to protect the health of Wisconsin citizens. To paraphrase his words, "there’s a reason why nearly half of American citizens live in communities covered by smoke-free laws; there's a reason why every health care building is smoke-free...the reason is society supports healthy workplaces for their workers, whether in the public or private sector."

Another strong point made by Senator Risser -- a point repeated by numerous testifiers questioning the logic of the opposition -- is that Tavern League of Wisconsin has asked for a level playing field in the past, and we are now granting them their wish: a smoke-free law that puts all taverns, restaurants and workplaces on a level playing field.

Smoke-free advocates outnumbering opposition 3 to 1...

Apologies for the lack of posts this afternooon; unfortunately, our wireless signal couldn't be picked up in the hearing room. However, I documented many testimonies, and I am happy to share with you some of the highlights from the afternoon!

First and foremost, the Senate Committee on Public Health, Senior Issues, Long Term Care and Privacy announced they had 200 to 300 hearing slips, with those speaking in favor of SB150 outnumbering those speaking against 3 to 1.

It's almost 4pm now, and the room is still packed, with many folks patiently waiting to testify. Although I couldn't update the blog with testimonies as they occurred, I will be looking over my notes and updating you all shortly. Thanks for your patience!

Less than an Hour to Go!

An overwhelming amount of smoke-free air supporters are already at the Capitol, with the SB150 committee hearing commencing in just under an hour!

Currently, tobacco control advocates from all over the state are meeting with their legislators, educating them on why smoke-free air policies are strong, effective policies for the health of Wisconsin citizens.

I'll be back in an hour with our first set of testimonies from the bill sponsors themselves, and I'll be updating you all afternoon long with the latest hearing news!

Thursday, May 24, 2007

It’s time to make our voices heard.

It’s time to make our voices heard.

Make your voice heard at the Senate hearing on the smoke free air bill, SB 150, next week, May 31 at 1:00 pm.

The hearing next week is an opportunity for every day people like you and me to tell our legislators that it is our right to have smoke free environments. It is our opportunity to protect all workers from the dangers of second hand smoke. It is our responsibility to protect the children of our community from tobacco.

For more info on the hearing, click here

Details about the hearing:

What: The hearing will be before the Senate Public Health, Senior Issues, Long Term Care and Privacy Committee.
Where: State Capitol, Room 411 south
Thursday, May 31, 2007 at 1:00 p.m.
It’s time to exercise our rights with our government; It is our right to breathe free
How to get there:
Carpool, drive, bike, walk---or take a free bus:

Info on the buses: If you want to ride a bus, please RSVP to Martha Baxter at ASAP! Buses are first come first serve and we need a head count so we can have the right number of buses.

Eau Claire/Altoona:

Bus Depart:

ACS Office Eau Claire

2427 N Hillcrest Pkwy

Altoona, WI 54720

Bus Return: Madison between 5:00 and 6:00 p.m.

Green Bay/DePere:
Bus Depart:
ACS DePere Office

3311 S Packerland Dr
, Suite A
DePere, WI 54115

One stop in Appleton at the Target located at Fox River Mall, located between the College Ave and WI Ave exits.

Bus Return: Madison between 5:00 and 6:00 p.m.

La Crosse:

Bus Depart: LOADING AT 7:45 A.M. – DEPART 8:00 AM
Valley View Mall Park & Ride
3800 State Rd
16. Hwy 16 & Theatre Rd closest Intersection
(located between Valley View Mall, Sears end, and Chucke Cheese)

Bus Return: Madison between 5:00 and 6:00 p.m.

Quintuple bypass, heart valve replacement, and kidney failure: What heart disease and secondhand smoke mean to me, Part II

A few weeks ago I introduced you to my Dad, Henry. A year and a half ago he had a quintuple bypass and a metal valve placed in his heart. After his open heart surgery, his kidneys failed completely and he was put on dialysis. Luckily, I was able to donate one of my kidneys to my father and I'm very proud to say that today is the one year anniversary of our operation. I'm overjoyed to report that both my Dad and I are doing great.
What does this have to do with smoke free air? The answer is everything.

Heart disease affects millions of people every year and it is estimated that 771 non-smoking Wisconsinites die every year from heart disease caused by secondhand smoke exposure. Before you take your next trip to a smoky bar, let me tell you what heart surgery really means (I'll save the details of a kidney transplant for later).

To begin with, two years ago my Dad passed his cardiac stress test. Five months later he was back at the hospital for an unrelated issue. It ended up being a longer stay than he had bargained for. For five days he waited for the doctors to figure out what was going on with his heart. On the sixth day he had his heart surgery. When you have heart surgery, they literally cut open your chest. My Dad said that if felt like he'd been run over by truck. After the surgery, my Mom and I greeted him in intensive care. His body was swollen like nothing I'd ever seen before, and although he said he knew that my Mom and I were in the room, he couldn't talk to us. Thankfully his recovery process went smoothly, but it was still no picnic to be in the hospital for 5 days. As a result of his new metal heart valve, my Dad has to be on a blood thinning drug called Coumadin. Every week he gets blood drawn to make sure that his blood is not too thin or too thick. When you take Coumadin like my Dad does, you have to stop eating many common foods, including garlic and green leafy vegetables.

Like I said, my Dad is doing great, but he and my family have been through a lot. It makes me think twice before I go to a smoky bar. As long as even one person is smoking, it's just not safe. Even ventilation systems don't get rid of the disease-causing chemicals of cigarettes. Is that night out really worth the risk? The easy answer is no, but here's what I want you to consider. You and I might have the choice about whether or not to go to a smoky bar, but what if your job depended on it? Right now there are many places across Wisconsin where hospitality workers are exposed to secondhand smoke their entire shifts, day in and day out. Is it really fair to tell them that they have to choose between their health and a good job?

SmokeFree takes it to the airways

Don’t feel like reading over the website and the many articles on smoke free air? Listen to SmokeFree Wisconsin’s own Maureen Busalacchi and Aaron Doeppers from Tobacco Free Kids talk about clean air policies on WIBA Madison on May 22, 2007.

Click here to listen to the radio show

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Air Quality Study Q&A

I remember all the way back to third grade when my class learned about cigarette smoke and the damage it causes your lungs (the pictures of black lungs haunt me to this day!), but what we didn’t learn at such an early age is the science behind that damage, and what really is lurking in the air of that smoke-filled bar or restaurant.

An air quality study was recently conducted in central and northern Wisconsin, where research teams used air pollution monitoring equipment to measure the fine particle pollution in restaurants, bars and bowling alleys. The teams tested both smoke-free air sites as well as those establishments where smoking is allowed.

The study itself is rather scientific, and since my undergraduate degree was safely in the liberal arts department of UW-Madison, I thought I’d discuss the methods and findings (see chart) of the research with some of Wisconsin’s tobacco-free coalition leaders in order to fully understand the importance of the study. Joining me in this discussion are DaNita Carlson and Renee Trowbridge, the tobacco-free coalition coordinators for Wood County and Marathon County, respectively.

Q: The statistical findings use a unit of measure labeled PM2.5. What does this unit mean?

DaNita: We tested fine particle air pollution. PM stands for particulate matter, and 2.5 represents particulate matter in the air smaller than 2.5 microns in diameter.

Renee: Particles of this size are released in significant amounts from burning cigarettes and are easily inhaled deep into the lungs.

Q: It is quite obvious that smoke-free establishments had lower readings than those where smoking is allowed, but why do some smoking-allowed facilities have lower readings than other smoking-allowed facilities?

Renee: There are several factors that determined the amount of particulate matter in the air of smoking facilities:

  • Day of the week – weekends had higher readings than weekdays.
  • Time of day – afternoon/evenings had higher readings than mornings.
  • Number of smokers – some establishments had more smokers than others at the time of the test; the more smokers, the more smoke, thus the higher readings.

Q: How do these air quality readings compare to other air pollutants, such as car exhaust?

DaNita Readings taken of rush hour traffic yield about 11 micrograms, compared to an average of 129 micrograms in smoking-allowed facilities. In other words, the level of health-harming air pollutants in smoking-allowed facilities is almost 12 times that of rush hour traffic.

Q: What do you think is the most important finding of the study?

Renee: The average level of fine particle indoor air pollution was 12 times higher in places with observed smoking compared to places that were smoke-free. We know with out a doubt that exposure to secondhand smoke is dangerous to one's health, and sometimes it is even deadly. Employees in the hospitality industry should not have to work in an environment that compromises their health.

DaNita: The average level of fine particle air pollution was 12 times higher in places that allowed smoking than places that were smoke-free. Also, the employees within smoking allowed facilities have annual exposures to fine particle air pollution more than 2 times higher than safe annual levels established by the EPA. Both of these important findings support adopting comprehensive smoke free policies for the health of all citizens!

Q: What do you see as the main message of this study?

DaNita: It's time to get smoking out of all workplaces and public places. Comprehensive smoke-free policies would protect all workers from secondhand smoke exposure.

Renee: Establishments that allow smoking have on average 12 times more pollution than smoke-free establishments and city streets. This means that employees who work in smoke-filled environments are significantly increasing their risk of health problems associated with exposure to secondhand smoke! Hospitality employees have the right to work in safe, smoke-free environments!

Monday, May 7, 2007

We're making our mark!

Last week's Tobacco Control Conference was a huge succcess! One of the highlights was the number of people who headed over to the capitol to provide educational messages about tobacco prevention and control to our legislators. Here's a map of the people who stopped by our action booth before they headed across the street. Thanks to everyone who made this special effort!

(Later this week we'll post a Google Map of legislative visits and you can add yourself to it if you don't see your visit represented.)

Friday, May 4, 2007

Quintuple bypass, heart valve replacement, and kidney failure: What heart disease and secondhand smoke mean to me, Part I

Hi, I'm Jennie. When Liz asked me to start writing on the SmokeFree Wisconsin blog, I knew immediately how I was going to introduce myself. Here's my story.

A year and a half ago my Dad, Henry, had a quintuple bypass and a metal valve placed in his heart.
After his open heart surgery, his kidneys failed completely and he was put on dialysis. What does this have to do with smoke-free issues you ask? Everything.

My Dad is 56. He is an average 56-year old guy who could stand to lose a few pounds, but he's never been obese. He walks our dog twice a day for 10-15 minutes and he eats his vegetables. From age 16-45 my Dad was a pack-a-day smoker. Thankfully he quit 11 years ago, but he continued to work and socialize among smokers. Smoking and secondhand smoke were not the only reasons his heart failed to pump blood, but they contributed heavily to the condition he was in.

Heart disease is the Number One cause of non-accidental death in the United States, and smoking and secondhand smoke are significant contributors to the disease. I'm not going to go into the detailed facts; if you want to know numbers click here.

What I want you to know is that heart disease is real and traumatic. Often we don't realize that life's daily subtleties can have huge ramifications. And even when we are being conscious of making the right decisions for ourselves, sometimes other people are making decisions for themselves that negatively affect us.

I have hope that not every family will have to endure what mine went through with my Dad, and they shouldn't have to: many of the causes of heart disease are completely preventable. Smoking, and especially exposure to secondhand smoke, are two of those preventable causes. Wisconsin has the opportunity to take a stand in the fight against heart disease and reduce, and in the case of secondhand smoke, eliminate these risks. For my Dad and yours, it is time for Wisconsin to be completely smoke-free.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Smoke-free Illinois PASSES!!!

Illinois just passed their comprehensive statewide smoke-free bill! Illinois Gov. Blagojevich says he is supportive of the legislation, which covers all workplaces, restaurants, and taverns.
That brings the grand total to 19 states with comprehensive smoke-free legislation.

In other news, the AP published a story this morning with the title, "Doyle says smoking ban without taverns doesn't make sense." I can't for the life of me find the AP story online, but you can read the text reprinted on here. Gov. Doyle gave a great speech this morning at the WI Tobacco Control Conference talking about his trifecta approach to combating the burden of tobacco here in Wisconsin, which includes enacting a statewide comprehensive smoke-free law, increasing the cigarette tax by $1.25, and fully funding the state's tobacco control program. He was greeted by thunderous applause and a standing ovation.

The momentum is moving in our favor... let's get out there and work hard!

Welcome Conference participants!

I can't believe the Statewide Tobacco Control Conference is already here! Thanks to the conference organizers who did a fabulous job booking good speakers, recruiting diverse attendees, and making sure things run smoothly for the next two days.

We're talking a lot this year about storytelling and how stories help us carry our message to our communities and legislators, so I'd like to take this opportunity to invite you all to tell your stories about tobacco. It's easy - all you have to do is click on the "Comments" link at the bottom of this post!

What got you excited about tobacco control? What issues get you going? How do you spread the word? What successes have you had? Tell us while you're at the conference by commenting on this post!

Thanks, and have a great conference!