Wednesday, January 10, 2007

How soon til smoking ban legislation?

Acording to the Pioneer Press, it could be a couple more weeks before a bill is brought forth proposing a statewide smoking ban.

This is bad news for Rep Tom Emmer who has openly stated that a smoking ban is the top priority for the DFL's "thin agenda".

As the legislative session has been in progress for almost a week now, smoking ban bills have been buried beneath legislation for health care access, education funding, transportation, veterans issues, and even a cell phone driving ban.

Where is Emmer's outrage at my Constitutional Right to talk on a phone?

Momentum for tougher smoking restrictions has been growing across the state for years.

Cities and counties are tightening restrictions on lighting up. Beltrami County this month stiffened its smoking ban, ending a previous nighttime exemption for bars in the Bemidji area. The Hutchinson City Council last month decided McLeod County's ban wasn't strong enough and passed a total ban.

Momentum is indeed growing. Rural GOP legislators like Senator Dille and Representative Urdahl support a ban. Representative Shimanski has been silent on the issue thus far.

Olmsted County is expected to revisit its 2001 restaurant-only ban. Officials may convert it to a total ban later this month. A county survey in August found 77 percent of respondents wanted a stronger ban and 66 percent strongly favored a total ban.

The Olmstead County figures are similar to a Meeker County survey where nearly 3/4 of those surveyed supported a ban.

This legislative session also is the first since last June's report by the U.S. Surgeon General on second-hand cigarette smoke. The report found that any exposure to smoke was dangerous and that only "eliminating smoking from indoor spaces" was adequate protection for nonsmokers.

There are still many naysayers about second hand smoke though.

As the session continues, I wonder how strong the pro-cancer and pro-smoking lobby will get. I can imagine that Dille and Urdahl's phones ring quite often on the issue.

I applaud them for standing up and doing what is right.

1 comment:

American Lung Association of Minnesota said...

There are lots of GOP lawmakers in Minnesota who support Freedom to Breathe. Once the bill is introduced, they will have their chance to stand up and cast their vote. No "unrecorded voice votes" this time round.