The greatest cause of disease and death in every developed country and most developing countries is tobacco addiction. The World Health Organization estimates that tobacco addiction kills 5 million people worldwide each year, including more than 400,000 Americans.
In effort to combat this worldwide plague, the World Health Organization (made up of 192 member countries) voted unanimously last week to adopt the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC). The Convention urges countries to eliminate tobacco advertising, establish bigger/stronger warning labels, raise cigarette prices, and adopt smokefree workplace laws.
Today, France announced that it is raising cigarette prices by 25% and will continue to do so until prices reach 7 euros ($8.40) per pack. Currently, cigarettes cost about 4 euros ($4.80) per pack. The last price hike resulted in a 10% decline in youth smoking. In addition, new cigarette warning labels have gone into effect in Europe covering 1/3 of both the front and back of a pack of cigarettes. Canada and Brazil have strong picture based warning labels (click_here). Ireland and Norway have announced that restaurants and bars will be smokefree next year. Finland currently has smokefree casinos.
In the U.S., four entire states-- CA, DE, NY, and CT-- have gone totally smokefree (including restaurants, bars, and casinos). Hundreds of cities have also gone totally smokefree, including four of the most popular tourist destinations-- New York, Los Angeles, Boston, and San Francisco.
Canada and Australia continue to lead the world in smokefree workplace legislation.
In Japan, the densely populated Chiyoda Ward went smokefree outdoors last year, in response to growing complaints from residents about sidewalks and roads littered with cigarette butts and clothes being burned by cigarettes. Mayor Masami Ishikawa -- himself a smoker -- backed the ordinance, saying he believes it is no longer possible to rely on smokers to voluntarily stop throwing cigarette trash on the street.
Although there is much to be done, it is obvious that the world is taking action to prevent another generation of tobacco addiction and disease. Five million deaths a year are simply too much to ignore.
Canada Continues Smokefree Lead
Prince Edward County Goes Smokefree
Yesterday, Prince Edward County became the latest Ontario (Canada) jurisdiction to adopt a 100% smokefree workplace law, as County officials voted 9-6 in favor. The law takes effect on Sept. 1.
After months of deliberations, committee recommendations and, at times, heated debate, the council decided to join 40 other Ontario jurisdictions in eliminating tobacco smoke pollution in public places, including bars, restaurants, bowling alleys and pool halls.
Im really happy with this, said councilor Debbie Ruston, who is chairwoman of the Hastings and Prince Edward Counties Health Unit board. Councilor Robert Bell, a strong supporter of the law, said he would like to see all Canadian municipalities adopt smokefree laws.
Tobacco addiction is the #1 cause of disease and death in Canada, as it is in all developed countries. Several years ago, Canada adopted picture based warning labels on cigarette packs (click_here). Tobacco companies sued (as usual) to stop them and lost.
Prince Edward County joins the following 40 Ontario municipalities in enacting 100% smokefree workplace legislation, including restaurants, bars, bowling alleys, and pool halls.
Maine House Gives Final Approval to Smokefree Bars
House Votes 95-47 to Become 5th Smokefree State
Augusta, June 3, 2003... Maine's House of Representatives voted 95-47 to join California, Delaware, New York, and Connecticut in passing smokefree workplace legislation for ALL workers. The bill now goes to the full Senate where it is expected to pass. Earlier this month the Legislative Health and Human Services Committee voted 12-1 in favor of the legislation.
Gov. John Baldacci has also indicated support for the measure. If the bill reaches his desk, he more than likely will sign it, said Lee Umphrey, Baldaccis director of communications. Smokefree bars clearly reflects his interest in a healthy Maine, Umphrey said.
Having already passed smokefree restaurant legislation four years ago, Maine has seen the benefit of smokefree laws. Consequently, opposition to this year's smokefree bar proposal has been minimal.
"We're tired of working in an environment that is not safe or healthy," said Rep. Leila Percy, a Phippsburg Democrat who works as a singer and bandleader in the haze of clubs that serve alcohol.
Rep. Roger Landry said that after his decade-long battle against cancer, he puts health concerns over personal freedoms cited by the bill's opponents.
To become the 5th smokefree state, Maine will have to compete with Massachusetts and Rhode Island which are also in final stages of smokefree workplace legislation for ALL workers (including restaurant and bar workers).
Maine residents can send a letter of support at www.smokefree.org/ME
"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful citizens can change the world. Indeed, it's the only thing that ever has."