Thursday, February 28, 2008

Only 5 days left to register for Lance Armstrong Rally

What: Lance Armstrong at the Citizens for Smoke-free Air Rally
When: Tuesday, March 4th
Day at the Capitol lasts from 10:30 a.m. - 3:00 p.m.
Rally goes from 12:00 p.m. - 12:45 p.m.
Where: Monona Terrace in Madison
1 John Nolen Drive
RSVP here! (Free buses will be leaving from Milwaukee, Green Bay, Wausau, La Crosse, and Eau Claire)

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Wrapping up

Rep. Hines says he will do everything he can to get the bill scheduled for a vote in the Assembly.

Rep. Hines is now reading the names of people who registered but did not speak. He must have read at least 50 names so far and not a single in opposition. The names continue...

Last speaker!

Randy Radtke, former WI legislator - speaking to libertarian arguments
-was it wrong to make coal mines safer and eliminate the scourge of Black Lung? To clear out asbestos from schools and other buildings? To install sprinkler systems in buildings? To require restaurants to adhere to proper refrigeration, food handling standards? To create the 40 hr. work week? To put safety equipment in industrial workplaces? To regulate chemical emmissions to protect our air? To fend against ground water contamination? These are all regulations that serve a good purpose.

Med student from the UW - she wants to stay and work in a smoke-free state
-WI can't continue to receive failing grades for health disparities

Recent survey in Shawano County

Scott Davis, Shawano County - 2 out of 3 support smoke-free bars and restaurants in Shawano County
-writing is on the wall - let's get this done
-Assembly can be an example for the Senate in acting expeditiously

Sandy Bernier, Fond du Lac - social justice issue
-workers deserve healthy workplaces

Mary Hilliker, Wausau - worked in smoky environments and developed asthma
-we want everyone to be able to work and provide for their families
-this matters to rural residents too

The room is thinning out

Lung doctor from Sturgeon Bay - will of the people is to have smoke-free
-hospitality workers shouldn't have to breathe SHS
-we are obligated to protect those who can't influence decisions about their place of work

Dr. Pamela Wilson, internist - Ireland, France have done it - why can't Wisconsin?
-"personal choice" is only a valid argument if those choices don't harm others
-hospitality workers are exposed to SHS at greater amounts than other segments of the workforce
-let's do this in 2008 - it's time to act

Marshfield, Madison

Dave Wille, chair of BreatheFree Marshfield - Marshfield will take a vote to go 100 percent smoke-free on April 1st
-state law must not include preemption
-state law should be implemented swiftly

Steve Holtzman, former Madison alder - partial smoke-free policies didn't work for Madison
-simplest thing to do is having a level playing field
-Tavern League in Dane Cty. told council at the time that they wanted a level playing field
-proposed bill will create the level playing field and alleviate woes that were expressed earlier today by juke box operators, bowling center operators
-don't let the Tavern League dictate this key health issue

Beloit's experience, more

Debbie Fischer, Rock County Youth2Youth - Beloit's ordinance is restaurant-only and has created enforcement challenges
-some people hopping the border to go to smoke-free Illinois

Angelica, sophomore from a Beloit high school - remember those who don't have a choice

Taku Ronsman, Green Bay - smoking in the workplace has negatively impacted her music performing business
-the legislature has to choose between our health and the Tavern League - and she hopes they will make the right choice

SFW Executive Director speaks

Maureen Busalacchi, SFW - WI has the biggest hospitality coalition in support of smoke-free legislation of any states
-it's time to listen to the public
-the hearing today was packed with supporters
-over 80 editorials have been written in support of the law
-implement soon


Bruce Speight, WISPIRG advocate - just released a paper showing a neutral or positive impact on hospitality sector of places that have gone smoke-free
-we'll ask Bruce to guest blog about this paper in the coming days!

Dan Corbin, tavern owner near Superior - sits on TLW Board of Directors
-doesn't believe taverns can weather a smoke-free law
-he seems more concerned about the recent cigarette tax increase - most of his comments are about that

Mayor of Ashland - Ashland has an ordinance and it has been the #1 issue people have offered positive feedback to him on (10-20 to 1)
-vast majority of the public supports this

Eau Claire area perspectives

Larry Motzer, ACS volunteer in Eau Claire - SHS kills

Steve Anderson, Eau Claire - this is not a complicated issue
-we must reject Tobacco Industry influence in our state
-good business owners compete at their best on a level playing field
-please do this, especially for those of us in the Northern counties (he has lived in Burnett County and Eau Claire County)

More real experiences

Connie Olson, Appleton - it wasn't easy in the beginning
-Tavern League was opposed at the outset, but Appleton bar owners are silent now because they have a "corner on the market"
-some business owners are buying multiple locations within city limits - they wouldn't do this if it was really bad for business

News from Illinois

Barbara Denekker, Lake County, IL Health Dept. - 27,000 businesses, incl. 3,000 restaurants and bars - only 32 complaints since IL has gone smoke-free
-hears from employees who are relieved about smoke-free
-businesses offering positive feedback, incl. testimonials that business is up

Still more...

Aaron Doeppers, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids - evaluate each piece of legislation on its own

Milwaukee resident who has emphysema and is on oxygen - used to smoke; we can't rely on smokers to be polite - a law is necessary
-Tosa restaurants are packed even though they're smoke-free

Dr. Robert Phillips - practicing internist at Marshfield Clinic - WI can't wait any longer
-no middle ground on SHS
-more on health
-in response to a question from Rep. Wasserman, Dr. Phillips stated that secondhand smoke is no less harmful if it comes from a cigar, pipe, or cigarette

Statewide representation

Citizen from Nekoosa - please do this for workers who don't have a choice

Dr. Todd Mahr, allergist at Gundersen Lutheran, American Lung Association leadership group member, local smoke-free advocate - sees patients whose asthma flares due to working in smoky environments
-Tavern League in Onalaska told city council not to pass a local smoke-free policy because they would rather have a statewide smoke-free law to level the playing field - interesting that none of those people have been supporting the proposed bill

David Ahrens, UW Cancer Researcher - bartender health study in MSN and Appleton showed immediate health improvement after smoke-free went into effect
-air quality in bars is 3 times as bad as "hazardous" level of outdoor air alert system; 6 times as dangerous as the levels we experienced this Monday when the state issued an air quality alert

More speakers

Kristen Grimes, manages WI Asthma Coalition and also has asthma - even trace amts. of SHS can be harmful for asthmatics

Tom Saxe, owner of Saxe's in Genessee - has gone smoke-free in his restaurant, his bar will go smoke-free Friday
-doing this statewide means no winners and losers
-Tom is a throat cancer survivor and believes he survived to tell his story

More thoughts from speakers

Ed Lump, Wisconsin Restaurant Association - this was a tough issue for the WRA, but they put aside passion and emotons and studied the facts
-not a lot has changed except for a continual pile-up of evidence in support of smoke-free - consumer attitudes are shifting, communities are passing local ordinances, health advocates have become more vocal
-there is no evidence nationwide to show negative economic effects due to statewide laws
-lots of people think they're entitled to exemptions, but it's time to do this for everyone

The testimony continues...

Eliz Greene, Volunteer Advocacy Chair for American Heart Association - heart attack survivor, mother of twins (one of whom has asthma)
-"smoke-free" means different things to different people - let's make sure "smoke-free" really means "smoke-free" statewide
-pass this law for Eliz's daughters

More speakers

Dr. Pat Remington - spoke to public health issue

Paul Decker - non-smoking lung cancer survivor - Paul told his personal story with his experience and recovery from cancer; he also discussed the limitations he faces looking for a smoke-free Fish Fry; Paul now consults with businesses, manufacturers - most of whom have removed smoking from the workplace to control healthcare costs
-Paul also serves on ACS Midwest Division Board - pointed out that IL, MN, and now IA have beat us to the punch

Mario Mendoza, Economic and Leg. Liaison for City of Madison - this is a trend
-commended bipartisan support in both houses
-Madison's experience doesn't support the claims of loss of business
-implementation of Madison's smoke-free policy was much easier than predicted
-no complaints have been registered in 24 months
-businesses, particularly bars, have adapted by building outdoor smoking patios

Opposition doesn't have any speakers left

Rep. Hines just announced there are no more speakers registered in opposition. There are still many speakers left to testify in favor.

Looks like this hearing will live up to the expectations we set at the last hearing (in May) - we are greatly outnumbering the opposition.

More from the CDC - disparities in exposure

-According to the CDC, African Americans and low income workers are at greater risk for exposure to SHS
-SHS exposure is completely preventable
-studies have shown immediate, positive health impact on bar workers due to smoke-free policies

Simon McNabb, U.S. CDC

-worked closely with U.S. Surgeon General on 2006 report on the Health Consequences of Involuntary Exposure to Secondhand Smoke
-testifying for information purposes only
-he's summarizing the report, which you can find out more about at the CDC's website

Bowling center operator from MSN

-lost bowling league members after Madison went smoke-free
-doesn't believe the non-smokers have come into his business as promised
-would like to separate smokers and non-smokers within the same building as a "compromise"

Chaz Bartucz, Kenosha

-his mom worked in restaurants her whole life - he has seen the effects of SHS firsthand
-employees shouldn't have to ask themselves, "am I going to work here and be poisoned?" - this is an unfair decision for them to have to make
-restaurant owner he talked to last night said, "I can't wait for the state to make us go smoke-free"

Ralph Fleege

Mitchell Novelty Company - cigarette vending machine business - has lost business over the past decade - would rather ban cigarettes...

I'm going to stop typing - I've heard this nonsense before...

Dr. Frank Byrne, Pres. of St. Mary's

-represents St. Mary's, St. Claire's, and other SSM-affiliated hospitals and nursing homes
-they have gone smoke-free and they believe the state should also act
-"my right to swing my fist ends where your nose begins"
-Dr. Byrne is a pulmonologist by trade - he has seen the effects of SHS on his patients firsthand
-SHS is a huge drain economically - we must address these problems as part of the solution
-very familiar with regulation as a hospital head; believes the sort that protects public health and safety is necessary

Roger Westmont

Gen. Manager of Modern Specialty - his business rents entertainment equipment (like juke boxes) to bars. He believes there is a connection between his loss of business and Madison's smoke-free ordinance.

Rep. Schneider - how can we confirm the cause-and-effect alleged? A restaurateur in Monona attributed less business to higher gas prices and lower discretionary income.

Dr. Michael Fiore, UW-CTRI

-SHS harms people and exacts a human and financial cost
-SHS causes about 1,000 deaths per year in WI
-SHS disproportionately affects low income residents
-focus on a pregnant woman who works in a bar: higher miscarriage rates, higher low weight birth rates, higher rates of developmental disabilities due to her exposure to SHS
-the ONLY reason we are debating this is because it relates to Big Tobacco
-we would not be having this debate if it was about sprinkling asbestos on people - they are both clear health hazards, but the resistance to addressing these hazards only exists where Big Tobacco is concerned

Secretary Hayden, DHFS

-health care administration background (northern WI and MSN area)
-currently we don't have a level playing field healthwise in our state
-smoking costs Medicaid $.5 billion per year - this includes costs from SHS.
-if we don't do this statewide, the patchwork will continue
-AB 834 is essential to pass

Rep. Richards

-speaking on behalf of 4 bars in his district and the Marcus Corp., the largest hospitality employer in the state

-Rep. Richards is also a co-sponsor of the bill

Rep. Schneider weighs in

-we require hunters to wear blaze orange
-we require snow mobilers to follow a speed limit
-we require boaters to wear life jackets

-it used to be crazy to think that smoking would be restricted in the State Capitol - times have changed

Rep. Black weighs in

Points out that smoke-free policy does not lead to the slippery slope.
Drew the parallel betw. smoke-free policy and drunk driving laws.

Commenting today

Please comment today! Unfortunately, we won't be able to publish your comments until after the hearing (I'm blogging from my phone). We value your opinions and we are eager to have you weigh in!

More on rights...

The usual back-and-forth...

Rep. Vukmir and Rep. Wieckert/Sen. Risser

Rep. Vukmir:
-shouldn't we ban taverns since "nothing good" happens in them?

Rep. Wieckert:
-lots of good does happen in bars - bars aren't going anywhere

Sen. Risser:
-this is about providing healthy workplaces

Rep. Wieckert and Sen. Risser respond

Rep. Wieckert:
-bill doesn't attempt to influence smokers
-bill protects those who do not smoke from SHS, which the CDC identifies as harmful indoors
-bill asks smokers to take it outdoors
-at one point it was ok to drink and drive - until the science showed it was harmful to the public - not allowing drinking and driving could also be construed as a taking away of rights

Sen. Risser:
-government has a role to ensure safe working environments
-this is why the bill extends to restaurants and bars - they are workplaces too

Rep. Vukmir

-bill represents an erosion of rights
-concerned about creating a "nanny state"
-doesn't see herself as a parent of her constituents

Sen. Risser

-if the bill is brought to a vote in the Senate, it will pass
-this is a health issue - SHS contains 69 known carcinogens - U.S. Surgeon General says there is no safe level of exposure to SHS
-only opposition is economic - but the DATA show that smoke-free policies do not harm business
-WISPIRG study released earlier this week shows an increase in liquor license applications in Madison and a waiting list for the first time in history in Appleton
-other Midwest states are doing this - MN, IL, OH, IA, MI, NE
-it's time

Rep. Wieckert is first

Rep. Wieckert, author of AB 834, is testifying first.

Here are his points:
-will make us healthier
-will level the playing field
-represents Appleton, a city with a smoke-free ordinance that covers all restaurants and bars - says voters are very happy with smoke-free environments (as proved by 3 voter referenda)
-Rep. Wieckert has been hearing from constituents who love smoke-free Appleton, which is rare (he says usually folks stay quiet if they're content)
-latest CDC report was a catalyst for Rep. Wieckert's support
-Rep. Wieckert points out that comprehensive, uniform policy will be best - no games can be played by businesses seeking exemptions
-let's do this soon - it's time
-we still have 19 days to take action and we CAN do this
-Rep. Wieckert says he's open to amendments, but not if they are offered as a delay tactic
-Rep. Wieckert thanked hearing attendees for coming today

Not all cmte. members present

Multiple hearings are going on today, so some cmte. members will be in and out.

Hearing is beginning

Rep. Hines, the cmte. chair, is outlining the rules for today's hearing.

Watch the Public Hearing Live!

At noon today the Assembly Public Health Committee is holding a hearing to talk about Assembly Bill 834, the companion bill to SB 150. Watch it live on Wisconsin Eye

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Lance Armstrong to join us in Madison on March 4th!

Seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong is coming to Wisconsin to support our proposed smoke-free workplace legislation. He will appear with Governor Jim Doyle to urge approval of The Breathe Free Wisconsin Act next Tuesday, March 4th during the Citizens for Smoke-free Air Rally at the Monona Terrace in Madison.

What: Lance Armstrong at the Citizens for Smoke-free Air Rally
When: Tuesday, March 4th
Day at the Capitol lasts from 10:30 a.m. - 3:00 p.m.
Rally goes from 12:00 p.m. - 12:45 p.m.
Where: Monona Terrace in Madison
1 John Nolen Drive

Join us and tell your friends!
Are you interested in attending the entire Day at the Capitol event? Registration, training, and box lunch pick-up begins at 10:30 a.m. - Rally at 12:00 p.m. - Legislative visits take place between 1:00 p.m. - 3:00 p.m.
Click here to RSVP for the Citizens for Smoke-free Air Day at the Capitol!

Monday, February 25, 2008

A call for letters to the editor (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)

Check out this excellent editorial by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Still Waiting for a Vote.

The Journal Sentinel is asking, "should the statewide smoke-free bill be brought to a Senate vote? Why or why not?" I encourage you all to weigh in - send a letter to the Journal Sentinel editorial department.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Public Hearing: AB 834 (Wed., 12:00, 417 North)

There will be a public hearing on AB 834, the companion bill to SB 150, in the Assembly Public Health Committee next Wednesday, Feb. 27 at noon in Rm. 417 North of the State Capitol.

Are you planning on going? Let us know here!

Nebraska pulls a fast one: they're going smoke-free!

Moments ago the Nebraska Legislature overwhelmingly approved the newest statewide smoke-free law in the United States. This strong law includes all workplaces, bars, restaurants and other public places and will take effect in 2009.

I have to admit I didn't even know this was coming. That brings us up to 23 smoke-free states. Wisconsin better act quickly or we'll get stuck in the bottom half!

Congrats Nebraska.

(P.S. For the dorks out there - Nebraska's Legislature only has one house, so only one vote had to be taken!)

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Assembly says, "let's move on smoke-free air!"

Today the Assembly companion smoke-free bill received an official bill number (AB 834) and was referred to the Assembly Public Health Committee. AB 834 is authored by Reps. Wieckert and Richards.

This means there are now 2 separate smoke-free bills in the Legislature: 1 in the Assembly and 1 in the Senate. Want a refresher on the process the Assembly Bill will take? Revisit Jennie's post about "How a bill becomes law in WI."

It's really exciting to see a smoke-free bill moving so swiftly through the Assembly - and refreshing after it's long stint in the Senate! It's only been 2 1/2 weeks since we posted on the bill being circulated for co-sponsorship.

Readers: you can help AB 834 start on the right foot by contacting your representative if he/she is on the Assembly Public Health Committee. You can view a list of members here.

IA going smoke-free too?

The Iowa House passed a statewide smoke-free bill on a 55-44 vote last night. The law would go into effect on July 1st of this year. The bill is headed to the IA Senate next.

Readers: what do you think about that implementation timeline? MN took 5 months and IL took 7 months. We've already had a bill in the Legislature for over a year - everyone knows this is coming - yet smoke-free opponents in WI seem to think we need 2, 3, or more years to adjust. Weigh in by entering your comments below!

Monday, February 18, 2008

Minnesota Loves Fresh Air

A public opinion survey released early this month indicates sweeping support for the Freedom to Breathe Act, Minnesota’s statewide smoke-free law that took effect last October. The statewide survey, the first of its kind since the law was implemented, found that 76 percent of Minnesotans support the law, with 44 percent indicating strong support.

The survey found that strong majorities among all demographic groups favor the law (the chart below shows strong support among republicans and democrats and Metro and Greater MN), and that
support among Minnesotans has actually increased since the law was passed last spring.

For more information, visit

Thursday, February 14, 2008

No fumare? Salute!

When you think of Italy, what comes to mind? I think of Casanova, romantic Arias, Romeo and Juliet, Venetian canals, and, of course, my late- grandmother's Sicilian cuisine. I'll always remember her delicious, olive oil-infused cooking- rich tomato sauces poured over gigantic plates of pasta, award-winning split pea soup with ham, Chicago-style pizza, fried Italian sausage, never ending packages of hard salami in her fridge, and boxes of Neopolitan ice cream in her freezer.

I know what you're thinking- that diet sounds like a heart attack waiting to happen! Actually, Rome just released a study that shows an 11.2% decrease in heart attacks in the age demographic most likely to frequent bars and restaurants since their 100% smoke-free law went into place last year. Just in time for Valentine's Day, we Italians found a way to protect our hearts without giving up our delicious food! Cara mia, Sicilia, ti voglio bene!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

An answer to "junk science" claims

Our thanks to Dr. Alan Nichols for his guest post!

Rock Hill (S.C.) Herald, February 9, 2008

In a guest editorial on Jan. 26, Carson Taylor attacks "anti-smoking zealots" who rely on "junk science" to press for laws protecting the public from secondhand smoke. He doesn't identify these zealots, but I will. They include the surgeon general, EPA, Center for Disease Control, National Institute of Health, WHO and virtually every other public health organization on the planet.

Even Phillip Morris USA officially admits the risk. Per their Web site: "We also believe that the conclusions of public health officials concerning environmental tobacco smoke are sufficient to warrant measures that regulate smoking in public places." The tobacco industry lied about the risks of smoking and was stung by a $240 billion judgment. They won't make that mistake again with secondhand smoke. Now they indirectly fund outside groups such as "Citizens Against Government Interference" and "My Smokers' Rights," to do the dirty work for them.

Internal tobacco industry documents, made public by a lawsuit, reveal the strategy. "Our overriding objective is to discredit the EPA report. We will never find an unbiased scientist who concludes that ETS exposure has been proven safe for non-smokers. What we need is an aggressive public relations campaign to: 1. Restore a reasonable doubt in the minds of smokers that ETS is harmful to anyone. 2. Buttress the belief in smokers that smoking is a right which no government... is entitled to revoke." (Philip Morris memo 1987 Bates 2023551401/1404. Available online from the UCSF archive (scroll to bottom half of last page).)

Mr. Carson attacks the "infamous EPA study" for having "manipulated the data" to support "preconceived conclusions." He fails to mention subsequent larger and more comprehensive studies by the California Environmental Protection Agency and the National Cancer Institute. Each provided strong validation for the original EPA conclusions. As was later exposed, much of the criticism of the original report came from 13 scientists who were paid a total of $156,000 by The Tobacco Institute and two law firms to submit letters to scientific journals.

As for the ruling by U.S. District Judge William Osteen repudiating the EPA report, Carson fails to mention that Osteen was from North Carolina and had previously worked as a tobacco industry attorney. Osteen's ruling was subsequently overturned, and the official EPA report stands to this day.

Mr. Carson and I do agree on one point. The study done in Helena, Mont., showing heart attacks in the city dropped 40 percent in the six months after an indoor smoking ban was based on too small a population, and followed for too short a time. This is why the study was repeated in Pueblo, Colo., and Bowling Green, Ohio. And then repeated in New York, Scotland, Ireland, Germany, Italy and Greece, with every study reaching the same conclusion: Secondhand smoke laws result in immediate and dramatic drops in hospital admissions and deaths from heart attacks.

The Internet is full of sites claiming the moon landing was a hoax, Elvis is still alive and there is a conspiracy, hatched by public health officials around the world, to attack secondhand smoke with "junk science." As for me, I'm siding with the surgeon general who states that "the scientific evidence is now indisputable: Secondhand smoke is not a mere annoyance. It is a serious health hazard that can lead to disease and premature death in children and nonsmoking adult... There is no risk-free level of secondhand smoke exposure."

Alan Nichols, MD
Rock Hill, SC

Dr. Nichols is chairman of the Tobacco Free York County Coalition.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Self-extinguishing cigarettes bill passes committee unanimously

Last Thursday the Senate Public Health Committee unanimously passed SB 379, the self-extinguishing cigarettes bill proposed by Sen. Robson. For more information on the bill and the amendment that was added in committee, click here.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Anecdotes go both ways, but data doesn't lie

Anecdotes and personal stories are powerful components of a successful media campaign. One thing our opposition has always done well is "spin" the smoke-free issue by propagating the anecdotes of bar owners who are concerned smoke-free policies will put them out of business.

Madison's smoke-free ordinance experience is a great case example of how anecdotes were successfully (and eagerly, at times) disseminated through the media while the statistics and data relating to the claims being made were essentially ignored. Stories and controversy sell, data doesn't - I get that - there's nothing too flashy about supporting documentation that looks like this. Two and a half years later, liquor license applications in Madison are up from pre-ordinance years, but it's the doom and gloom anecdotes of the Tavern League that are still stuck in people's minds.

It's too bad the data doesn't always speak for itself, but I can understand why it's not as consumable as putting a real face on the issue. Most of us wouldn't take the Surgeon General's Report on Secondhand Smoke (709 pages) on vacation for a beach read. For that reason, I'm glad to see the tides are turning in the public debate over smoke-free air.

More and more we're starting to hear the personal stories that complement the mountains of evidence supporting strong smoke-free policy. Secondhand smoke affects Wisconsinites in many ways - you can hear others' stories or contribute your own on the new website. We're also hearing from bar owners who say going smoke-free wasn't the end of the world - check out this article from the Quad-City Times about Illinois bars that are experiencing an increase in business after Illinois went smoke-free on January 1.

We know smoke-free policy works from both the health and business standpoints. But for those who aren't dataheads, it's important you get out there and tell your story!

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Faith United Against Tobacco

Clergy of diverse faiths spoke out last week to encourage our nation's governors to fully fund tobacco control programs. The letter, endorsed by 24 different faith leaders, called on governors to fulfill their "moral obligation":

"In 1998 when the states entered into historic legal settlements with the tobacco companies, it was widely anticipated that the states would use the money from the tobacco companies to adequately fund programs that work to reduce tobacco use. Unfortunately, most states have broken that promise. We in the faith community believe that our leaders have a moral obligation to keep that promise in order to save countless lives from the horrors of tobacco-caused death and illness.

Our clergy spend too much time burying mothers, fathers, sisters and brothers who die untimely and grueling deaths because they became addicted to tobacco when they were young. We know all too well how the tobacco companies have spent, and continue to spend, billions of dollars to addict young and old to this deadly product...” [my emphasis]

Sadly, our state has yet to meet its moral obligation to adequately safeguard the health of Wisconsinites through its Tobacco Prevention and Control Program. In the budget approved for this biennium, the State of Wisconsin funds our Tobacco Prevention and Control program at $20 million annually. The CDC recommends that Wisconsin commit $64.3 million annually to adequately address the burden of tobacco in Wisconsin.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Celebrate a Heart Healthy WI - Let's Go Smoke-free!

Thanks to Luke Rollins of the American Heart Association for this Heart Month guest post!

Smoking is a major cause of cardiovascular disease which includes coronary heart disease and stroke, the nation's No. 1 and No. 3 killers.

When the chemical cocktail from smoking tobacco or breathing in secondhand smoke hits the bloodstream, it damages arteries, the heart, brain and other major blood vessels. Clots in arteries are more likely to form as a result, causing a heart attack or stroke. Smoking also lowers the level of HDL or "good" cholesterol.

And remember, it is not just smokers who are at risk. An estimated 35,000 nonsmokers die from coronary heart disease each year because of exposure to secondhand smoke.

Health, healthcare, and healthcare reform cannot advance in Wisconsin until Wisconsin takes secondhand smoke seriously.

Let's celebrate a heart healthy Wisconsin.

Let's go smoke-free!

Luke Rollins is the Senior Director of Wisconsin Advocacy for the American Heart Association Midwest Affiliate

Friday, February 1, 2008

Get well Wisconsin. Love, Minnesota.

Wisconsin legislators should look at real smoke-free businesses and realize the value that comes from a healthy environment both for work and play. New Richmond sports bar owner Randy Calleja went smoke-free in 2006 and he says of that decision, "we hear more positive than negative."

There once was a fear that people would drive to neighboring states to smoke inside if Wisconsin were to become smoke-free. Now, because Wisconsin lawmakers have danced around this issue for so long, our neighbors have removed this threat by going smoke-free themselves. Minnesota and Illinois are urging Wisconsin legislators to smarten up and make the region safer and healthier for everyone who calls it home.

Check out this editorial by the Minneapolis-St. Paul Star-Tribune: A neighbor's advice on a smoking ban. It's been 4 months since Minnesota went smoke-free and the response has been overwhelmingly positive. Stay tuned next week for a post from Ami about the growing popularity of smoke-free Minnesota among its residents!