Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Election Series: How to Register

First up: How To Register

Registering is easy, but there are some rules you need to follow. The government wants you to vote, and there are plenty of options to get signed up. Here are a few:

1. By mail - Visit the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board's website and download the two page voter registration form. You’ll have to mail it back to your municipal clerk's office (find yours here). If you're a first-time voter (anyone who hasn't voted in Wisconsin before) you will need to provide proof of residence - find out what counts as proof here. Your form must be postmarked no later than October 15 to vote on November 4.

2. In person - Stop in at your municipal clerk's office during business hours any day before election day.

3. Wisconsin is one of only a handful of states that allows same day voter registration. Take advantage! At the polling place on election day you must bring proof that you have lived at your present location for at least 10 days preceding the election. For purposes of voter registration, acceptable forms of proof of residence must include:

• A current and complete name, including both the given and family name; and
• A current and complete residential address, including a numbered street address, if any, and
the name of a municipality.

(View examples of acceptable proof of residence here.)

You can also sign up with many non-profit voter registration organizations' volunteers at public events.

Our next topic: Voting Early

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

It's Time!

One of summer's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that the number of smoke-free states has increased to 25. This number is triple the number of smoke-free states that existed just three years ago. Additionally, the number of states with no restrictions at all has decreased from 16 to 8. With Iowa recently becoming smoke-free and Michigan on its way, Wisconsin is the last holdout in the Midwest! In just a few years, Wisconsin has fallen behind other states across the nation in reducing health problems caused by secondhand smoke.

The CDC, one of the world’s leading experts in tobacco-related disease, states that the only way to effectively reduce damages caused by secondhand smoke is to make all indoor workplaces smoke-free. It's time for Wisconsin to join the other 25 states across the country in protecting the health of its citizens!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Election Series: Stay tuned!

Assuming you're not living under a rock, you probably know there’s an election coming up. With a tight presidential race already underway, with hot issues like health care and the economy, and with Wisconsin emerging as a critical swing state, SFW’s blog presents our first ever Election Series.

This November, millions of Wisconsin adults won’t head to the polls. Despite the best efforts of both parties, despite the hype, the “lipstick,” and all the talking heads, many eligible voters in our state will stay home November fourth. SmokeFree Wisconsin has never been into apathy, so we thought we’d provide a few suggestions for first time (and first time in a long time) voters. Tune in on Tuesdays for more information.

How To Register (Tuesday, September 30th)
Voting Early (Tuesday, October 7th)
What to Expect on Election Day (Tuesday, October 14th)

Monday, September 22, 2008

Think anti-cigarette taxes and ads are ineffective? Think again!

Time for a bit of news from down under, way under—Australia to be exact. According to a study published this summer in the American Journal of Public Health, tobacco tax increases and sustained mass media public education have had a dramatic impact on adult smoking prevalence on the world’s smallest continent.

According to the report:

  • An increase in the price of a single cigarette by 2.5 cents would result in 60,000-95,000 fewer smokers across the country
  • Sustained televised anti-smoking ads on an average between four and eight times per month would have the same effect.
  • Half of those adults who quit because of ads or taxes (36,000-47,500 people) would have died prematurely if they continued smoking

Authors highlight the importance of commitment and funding for successful reductions in smoking rates.

“A relatively small percentage change in the cost of a typical pack of cigarettes translates into measurable declines in prevalence,” said co-author Professor David Hill, director of Cancer Council Victoria.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Smoke Free Rural Dane County

Congratulations to the Dane County Board of Supervisors for ensuring that everyone in an unincorporated area within the county deserves the right to breathe clean smoke-free air. This is a landmark ordinance in the state of Wisconsin because it is a comprehensive county-wide ordinance that protects all workers from the dangers of secondhand smoke in all workplaces, including restaurants and bars. The implementation time line will allow businesses in the rural parts of Dane County ample time to modify their business plans to ensure compliance.

This comprehensive smoke-free ordinance passed with a 21-14 margin with 2 supervisors absent. This strong smoke-free ordinance will go into effect August 15, 2009. Thank you Dane County for taking action where the state has failed to take action. Hopefully in January we can finally rip the band aid off and have a comprehensive smoke-free law without exemptions or delays.

Additionally a resolution was passed in support of the remaining villages and cities passing similar ordinances. The Dane County Ordinance and other smoke-free municipalities will increase pressure on the state to act. It’s time everyone in the great state of Wisconsin have the right to breathe clean air in public and at work.

Thank you to all who came out last night to speak in support of the ordinance. I am also looking forward to working with many of the tavern owners who indicated that they are ready for a level playing field and would like to see a strong statewide law that would ensure all workplaces will be smoke free.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Dane County votes for smoke-free ordinance for unincorporatd towns

On a 21-14 vote, the Dane County Board of Supervisors voted for a smoke-free ordinance that covers all restaurants, bars, and workplaces.  This is the first time a county in Wisconsin has passed a strong smoke-free workplace policy (La Crosse County passed an ordinance a few years ago that covers some restaurants).

Bars and restaurants in Dane County's towns will be covered by the ordinance, but cities and villages that don't already have a policy in place are not under the county's regulatory authority.

Congratulations Dane County, and hopefully Dane County's cities and villages will also begin or continue their own public conversations about smoke-free policy.

The Cost of Smoking

MSN Money wrote a recent article about the costs incurred by smoking. Click here to read the article. Take a look at some of the ways that smoking can hurt personal finances and people's jobs:

Costs to an Individual smoker:

  • A pack-a-day smoker spends about $31.43 per week on cigarettes, or $1,635 per year
  • Life Insurance for a nonsmoker is between $570 to $1,035 in premiums per year but as much as $4,250 for a pack-a-day smoker
  • Non-smokers will receive at least a 10% discount when shopping for homeowners insurance.
  • If 40-year-old quits smoking today and puts the savings into a 401(k) earning 9% a year, he or she would have accumulate almost $250,000 by age 70!!
Costs to all of us:
  • 5% of employers prefer to hire nonsmokers and 1% do not hire smokers at all
  • 5% of companies charge smokers more for health-care premiums
  • Smokers cost the economy $97.6 billion a year in lost productivity due to premature death, as well as an additional $96.7 billion on public and private health care combined
  • Every American household spends $630 a year in federal and state taxes because of smoking
Quitting smoking is not just good for health, but it's good for the checkbook too!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Pay for Play Politics - How Big Tobacco is Influencing WI Politicians

The Wisconsin Democracy Campaign just released some interesting findings about one Wisconsin legislator's $7500 day this Feb. 16. Read their post here to see how Big Tobacco is dumping money into our state to influence legislation!

China’s addiction to nicotine? Staggering—Beijing’s smoke-free Olympics? Admirable

Since Beijing hosted the 2008 summer Olympics, you’ve probably heard quite a bit about the world’s largest country; but here’s something you might not know. Check out China’s addiction to nicotine:

  • 350 million smokers
  • Six in 10 men smoke regularly
  • 1,000,000 people die of smoking-related diseases every year

Yet even China- addicted to cigarettes like no other country on Earth- has passed a smoke-free law for public spaces. On May 30, the health ministry announced the entire Olympic games and Beijing, China's Capitol city, would be smoke-free. Beijing’s residents, Olympic athletes, spectators, and officials from all over the world all breathed easier this summer.

Thanks to some forward thinking by Chinese health officials, the only smoke at the Olympic games came off the sprinters' shoes.

A Clean Bill of Public Health

If you've been keyed into the exciting news in Pennsylvania, you will notice the air is finally being cleared in PA. That's right Pennsylvania is the most recent state to enact a smoke-free law. Some of the links below feature stories on this important piece of legislation.

Article from WPXI

Article from NBC10

What you will see in these articles is that the statewide law is complex and to some confusing. The law, while moving towards protecting all workers from the dangers of second-hand smoke- will NOT protect all workers. People will not be fully protected in all public places. It is exemptions like the ones in the PA law that creates a situation where people do not know where they are protected and where they are not. Its time for ALL hospitality workers to be protected from secondhand smoke. Strong smoke free laws are easier to enforce and create equity among all workplaces and public places.
Wisconsin needs a clean bill of public health, that means a need for a strong statewide smoke free law! No exemptions, no delays!