People Ban: MA State Update


MA State Update

Despite health risks, new policy tolerates student smoking outside Brookline High
Sep 30, 2010
Smoking may be anathema to school health education, but students can light up close to the Brookline High School campus this year under a new policy that grants smokers a spot across from the school’s front doors and gymnasium.
The reasoning behind the policy is to keep smoking out in the open, and not have teachers tracking down smokers in school bathrooms and hallways, said the high school’s headmaster, Bob Weintraub.
“The schools banning smoking entirely have to allocate significant human resources to inside or outside the school, wherever smoking takes place,” said Weintraub, later noting that some schools have teachers monitoring bathrooms for smokers.
“To me, I’d rather have the teachers at Brookline High School working on more productive activities,” said Weintraub.
But critics of the policy said it’s contrary to years of teaching students about the risks of smoking.
“It’s a very mixed message [to students]. We’d hope that school systems would spend all their efforts highlighting the dangers of smoking, and not tolerate any opportunity to smoke,” said Marc Hymovitz, director of government outreach for the American Cancer Society in Boston, who noted that no one under age 18 can legally buy cigarettes in Massachusetts.
Under the new policy, the school encourages students who smoke to do so on the sidewalk at the corner of Greenough Street and Davis Avenue.
In the school’s handbook, the spot is officially “off campus,” but the sidewalk is flanked on one side by the school’s ballfield, and faces the main entrances to the gym and high school building. Greenough Street is also closed to vehicle traffic during the day to make it easier for students to come and go between classes.
Mary Minott, the high school’s coordinator of substance abuse prevention, said three school staffers go out to any student smokers and let them know about the assistance programs that are available. She said that anecdotally, there appear to be fewer smokers at the school than in the past since the policy began with the new school year.
“It’s a health problem. We don’t try to turn it into [an issue of] ‘You’re a bad person because you have an addiction,’” said Minott.
The school can’t stop students who smoke on the public sidewalk at the corner of Tappan and Greenough streets, but officials ask students to move out of the way, she said.
Minott said this policy doesn’t apply to adults smoking on the sidewalk.
While the school can’t prevent freshmen from smoking on public property, the school changed its “open campus” policy to prevent first-semester freshmen from leaving school grounds. Older students, and second-semester freshmen with parental consent, can leave school grounds during the day.
The school’s policy bans smoking on official school property, including the Cypress Street playing field. The sidewalk along the field is not school-controlled property.
The school developed the policy with the input of about 30 juniors and seniors, along with substance abuse prevention staff, in response to a forum hosted last year with Brookline Coalition Against Substance Abuse.
But that policy raised the ire of some anti-smoking advocates, who said the measure is contrary to what’s proven to reduce smoking rates among teens.
Danny McGoldrick, vice president of research for the Washington, D.C.-based Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, said the Brookline policy contradicts anti-smoking efforts.
“Kids spot hypocrisy a mile away,” said McGoldrick, who later added, “If you carve out an area that is OK to smoke, you’re contradicting your message in other venues.”
He said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other health agencies encourage a single message on the risks of smoking that is directed to young people.
“It’s not a normal behavior. It kills half of those who do it in their lifetime,” said McGoldrick of smoking.
Hymovitz, of the American Cancer Society in Boston, criticized the policy for “making it easier and more tolerable” to smoke.
“It’s counter to all of the proven tobacco control efforts over the past several years, and it plays into the hands of the tobacco industry” because they are looking for young smokers, said Hymovitz.
He said the state’s 2004 ban on workplace smoking was successful by making it harder for people to smoke, and gave them an incentive to quit. He said educational efforts to highlight the dangers of smoking, smoking bans in schools and higher taxes on cigarettes have had a similar effect on youth smoking figures.
“It seems like a backwards policy to make it easier for children to smoke,” said Hymovitz.
According to a study of tobacco use among young people conducted by the state departments of public health and K-12 education, which reviewed data from 1993 through 2009, about 82 percent of adult smokers in Massachusetts began smoking before age 19.
Statewide, about 17 percent of high schoolers in 2009 had used a tobacco product within the previous 30 days of taking a tobacco use survey, according to the report.
However, the report showed tobacco use statewide was higher among older high schoolers: in 2009, about 11 percent of freshmen smoke, and by senior year, that figure increased to 21 percent.
Cigarette smoking causes about 8,000 deaths each year in Massachusetts, according to the report. Officials also worry that smoking at a young age increases the chances of picking up riskier addictions such as drugs later in life.
In Brookline, about 9 percent of high schoolers — roughly 170 students — smoked within 30 days of the most recent youth risk survey the school conducted, according to Weintraub.
“I have an attitude you don’t want to push kids away from the school … our job is to embrace a whole range of kids,” said Weintraub.
Alan Balsam, the town’s health director, acknowledged that the school’s new smoking policy isn’t a “perfect message,” but regards it as a step forward in grappling with student smoking and protecting others from the dangers of smoking.
The school used to ban smoking, and students would gather on nearby public property, he said. The new policy was meant to eliminate that “gauntlet” of smokers that nonsmokers had to pass through every day to get to school.
“Part of this is recognizing that there are kids who smoke, and we want to protect the kids who don’t smoke” from secondhand smoking risks, said Balsam.
“We’re monitoring the tobacco use among youngsters, and I’m feeling pretty good” about those rates when compared to other communities, said Balsam.
The TAB attempted to speak to a representative with the state Department of Public Health’s Tobacco Control Program, but a spokeswoman would only accept written questions in advance from the TAB via e-mail. She declined to make a representative available over the phone.
While Brookline allows students to smoke across the street from the school, other school districts continue to frown on any tobacco use near a school.
In Newton, a city ordinance prohibits smoking within 300 yards of the Newton North High School building, with penalties for repeat offenses, including fines of up to $200 and smoking cessation classes.
Waltham High School’s citywide ban on tobacco products on school property includes harsher punishments. For a first offense, a student will be slapped with an overnight suspension from school, a meeting with the principal before returning to classes and attendance at two tobacco education classes.
Watertown High School students caught smoking on school grounds face suspension, while Wellesley High School bans all tobacco products from school property.
At Brookline High School, during a warm early afternoon last week, dozens of students lingered around the athletic field in front of the school, though none appeared to be smoking. Students who spoke with the TAB were mixed on the new policy, but generally agreed with allowing students the option to smoke on campus.
“It makes sense — it stops the freshmen from smoking,” said Jesse Schneider, a junior who said he smokes.
He thought the policy was inconvenient; it forces students under shade trees in nice weather, and smokers can’t spread out at all. He was skeptical about whether it would encourage smokers to quit.
“It’s really not having an effect on me,” Schneider said.
Senior Myles Grimes, who said he smokes, agreed with the policy and said school officials are taking the new policy seriously.
“They’re taking it offensively if we do smoke” in other areas, he said.
“It’s understandable, but it’s something that shouldn’t be limited — we’re not doing drugs,” said Tyrone Nunez, a junior who smokes. He later noted that cutting down on smoking at the school doesn’t mean students have kicked the habit.
“It does help [students] to smoke less, but it doesn’t stop smoking,” he said.
Two other seniors, Marni Musmon and Alex Sanchez, said the policy was better than an outright smoking ban. Neither smoke, they said.
“I think it’s fair. A lot of schools don’t allow smoking at all,” said Musmon.
“And if you did, kids would find a way” to smoke, said Sanchez.
“I hate it, it sucks … people don’t really like it, said Gabriel Toledo, a junior at Brookline High School.
Toledo, a smoker who said the school’s previous smoking policy was better because it gave smokers more freedom of movement, said the policy was made to keep students away from where younger kids and parents had to walk.
While the measure has limited where smokers can light up, the school hasn’t stopped student smoking, either.
“They’re letting us smoke here,” said Toledo. “It’s a plus.”
One high school student agreed to be interviewed, and told a reporter he was a smoker. When asked for his name, he declined, and said he said his mother might learn that he smokes if he gave his name to the paper.

Cigar Association Condemns Cambridge Council for Proposed Smoking Ban Extension
Cambridge, Massachusetts October 13, 2010 – Like lemmings leaping into the sea, the Cambridge, Massachusetts City Council is following New York City’s attempt to extend the statewide indoor smoking ban and include the city’s public spaces, including parks.
Cambridge City Councilor Marjorie Decker proposed the ban extension last week and a policy order was passed by the council. City Manager Bob Healy is exploring the ban’s feasibility with the Cambridge Public Health Department before the ban extension is actually voted on.
“Ridiculous,” said Chris McCalla, legislative director of the International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers Association. “This is just another twisted attempt by lazy lawmakers to control people with unnecessary legislation based on unsubstantiated assumptions.”
McCalla said no studies exist that prove secondhand smoke represents any health risks indoors, let alone outdoors. He added that laws against littering already exist and should be enforced “without wasting any more time on silly matters like this. Jobs are at stake, businesses are at risk and for what? Because legislators don’t listen to the people and they don’t want to confront real issues like job creation and proper budget management,” he added.
The IPCPR represents some 2,000 retailers and manufacturers of premium cigars, pipes, tobacco and related accoutrements. For the most part, they are small, family businesses, passed on from generation to generation. They are neighborhood businesses that employ neighborhood residents and family members serving neighborhood customers who enjoy a good cigar or bowlful of pipe tobacco every now and then.
“Surveys show that legislated smoking bans ruin more businesses than they help,” he said. “That’s why we are against any form of legislated smoking bans and urge civility and courtesy between smokers and non-smokers. This is nothing but ‘control creep,’ where prohibitionists grab a piece at a time at our rights to run our own lives.”
McCalla said it was a non-argument to indicate that because some other cities in the United States have legislated such smoking bans, Cambridge and New York City should do the same.
“There’s no leadership in following the wrong moves of others,” McCalla said. “They throw numbers around like they are meaningful statistics as a means to justify their ends. Those so-called statistics are fictional estimates made of lies from whole cloth by people and organizations who have everything to gain from such bans, primarily financial gains. Healy is doing what he has to do, but Decker and Sam Lipson, director of environmental health, are way off base with this one. “
Tony Tortorici

Massachusetts Proposes Anti-Tobacco Propaganda Where Tobacco is Sold
Boston, Massachusetts June 17, 2010 – The Commonwealth of Massachusetts is preparing to post propaganda pictures in some 9,000 locations where tobacco is sold using a federal stimulus grant of $316,000 to at least partially pay to print them. That hardly contributes to job creation and economic recovery in the state, according to the International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers Association.
“First the federal government expands the State Children’s Health Insurance Program – SCHIP – and expects increased tobacco taxes to pay for it. Then it gives hundreds of thousands of dollars to support efforts to reduce smoking. Talk about mixed messages! Also, such propaganda against smoking will only hurt small businesses while reducing local, state and federal tax revenues,” said Chris McCalla, legislative director of the IPCPR.
The association represents some 2,000 professional tobacconists, most of whom are small business owners of mom-and-pop neighborhood cigar stores along with premium cigar manufacturers and distributors of related merchandise. Nearly 40 of those members reside, work and run their businesses in the state of Massachusetts.
The Massachusetts proposal requires that stores display images of human organs purportedly damaged by smoking.
According to the Cambridge, Mass.-based civil rights activist Stephen Helfer, such propaganda would be blatantly misleading.
“Massachusetts plans to use images of lungs allegedly damaged by smoking. The message being, that a smoker’s lungs are invariably diseased. The public has no way of knowing, however, if the lungs in the images are from a smoker or a nonsmoker,” Helfer wrote in an as-yet unpublished  letter to the editor of The Boston Globe.
“I meet men and women in their seventies and eighties who have smoked two or three packs a day since adolescence and appear in better respiratory shape than some younger people who do not smoke,” said Andre Weil, M.D., the so-called father of integrative medicine and author of several best-selling books promoting general health and healthy aging.
Helfer also cited evidence that cigarette smokers have a reduced risk of developing Parkinson’s disease and that a similar effect has also been noticed in epidemiological studies of Alzheimer’s disease.
“If health officials wanted to educate, rather than only frighten, they could require that the image of a normal brain of a smoker be displayed next to one ravaged by either of these dread diseases,” he noted.
Tony Tortorici

Excerpt from article below:
“The federal tax deduction applies to legislators in all 50 states.”
Seekonk’s D’Amico among Mass. lawmakers claiming lucrative tax deduction

Feb 05, 2010
By Janet Wu, WCVB Political Reporter

BOSTON — Some state lawmakers living more than 50 miles from Beacon Hill are using an unusual loophole that allows them to deduct as much as $311 per day from their federal income tax.

Federal tax law allows them to legally deduct up to that amount which, for some, could mean deducting their entire state salary.

Rep. Denis Guyer, D-Dalton, is among those who qualify for the deduction.

“I have paid, in some years, federal income taxes. Some years, I haven’t paid any,” Guyer told WCVB.
Federal law does not require legislators to travel to Boston or even prove that they’re working for taxpayers on any given day to claim the deduction.

The law, passed by Congress in 1981, only requires the Massachusetts House and Senate to be “in session” on the days claimed. WCVB discovered the last time the Massachusetts Legislature prorogued — or was officially not in session — was in 1988.

Rep. Steven D’Amico, D-Seekonk, admitted that he paid no federal taxes in 2007 or 2008, saying he didn’t want to look “a gift horse in the mouth,” since his wife had recently died and he was struggling with medical bills.

WCVB contacted 54 Massachusetts legislators eligible for the lucrative tax deduction. The vast majority of those eligible — 45 legislators — ignored the inquiry. Nine confirmed they took advantage of the federal perk. Two said that in some years, they paid no federal taxes.

But since income tax filings are private records, Massachusetts voters may never know the truth.

“It’s fair because it’s the law and that is the federal government’s way of helping me cover transportation costs,” said Sen. Stanley Rosenberg, D-Amherst, who also takes the deduction.

All of the legislators interviewed not only admitted they took the federal deduction, but that they also accept large per diem reimbursements by the state for their transportation costs.

In 2008, Rosenberg claimed $7,680 in per diems from Massachusetts taxpayers. Rep. D’Amico claimed $3,600. Rep. Guyer received $11,234.

“Absolutely the effect of it is double-dipping,” said Michael Widmer of the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation. “It’s understandable there may be a per diem for travel from western Massachusetts into the Statehouse that the state provides. But then there is this huge benefit that the federal government provides on top of it.”

“I abide by the laws that are on the books today,” said Rep. William Pignatelli, D-Lenox. “And I’m not going to initiate (an effort to change) it.”

The federal tax deduction applies to legislators in all 50 states. 

Massachusetts Reaches Tipping Point Says IPCPR and State Tobacconists
Boston, Massachusetts June 15, 2009 – Apparently State Rep. Ted Speliotis doesn’t believe Massachusetts has gone far enough to control the lives of its citizens, but the International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers Association and its several dozen members statewide believe that the tipping point of public opinion has been reached against legislated deprivation of their individual rights.
Speliotis’ bill to essentially ban smoking within 25 feet of windows and entrances of buildings is expected to be reviewed this week at a State House hearing.  
“People are complaining today that governments at all levels have gone too far by intruding on their lives and taking away more and more of their rights,” said Chris McCalla, legislative director of the IPCPR. “Well, a smoking ban such as proposed by Speliotis only serves to embolden legislators to deprive more and more people of their rights in an ever widening variety of categories . That’s why smokers and non-smokers alike should take a stand against legislated smoking bans of any kind.”
McCalla cites the Federal Reserve Bank which uses data supplied by the Bureau of Statistics to prove that jobs are lost and businesses are threatened in areas where smoking bans are tolerated.
Stephen Willett, owner of tobacconist L. J. Peretti Co., a family operated business in Boston for nearly 140 years, agrees. He is among the Massachusetts members of IPCPR who, along with their customers, are even more strident in their opposition to government control over lifestyle decisions.
“What hypocrisy! Many of the same state and federal legislators who vote for smoking bans or over-the-top tax increases on tobacco enjoy cigars and pipes or smoke cigarettes whenever they get a chance. Businesses should be left to decide for themselves to allow smoking or not and customers can patronize them or not. That’s the American way,” said Willett.
“For nearly a century and a half,  our business has survived wars, weather, depressions and other man-made and natural disasters. However, the recent actions of our local, state and federal governmental bodies have hurt us the most. They’ve raised tobacco taxes too high in order to pay for programs they can’t afford. They’ve restricted smoking or banned it outright in order to control us, which denies us of our constitutional rights,” Willett said.
“Our customers are outraged and have reached the tipping point on issues like this that deprive them of their rights,” he added
Tony Tortorici

Landlords lead push to ban smoking at home
Mass. activists sidestep fray
By Stephen Smith, Globe Staff  |  April 24, 2009
When apartment dwellers in Belmont, Calif., complained about cigarette fumes from down the hall, the City Council sprang into action on their behalf, outlawing smoking in apartments and condos and threatening to ticket violators.
When tobacco-control activists in Massachusetts embraced the same cause, they made a tactical decision that seemed surprisingly meek in a state long recognized for its prohibitions against harmful habits: They rejected the idea of governmental regulation.
It was one thing, they figured, for lawmakers to banish smoking from restaurants and bars. It was something else entirely to deploy city or state laws to prevent apartment tenants and condo owners from smoking in their own homes.
So, instead, they are leaving it to market forces, convinced that the supply side – landlords – will listen to the demand side – nonsmoking tenants – and adopt smoke-free rules.
It appears to be working.
“Now renting! Smoke-free apartment living” trumpets a banner billowing from a blocklong apartment house rising in the shadow of TD Banknorth Garden. And a soon-to-be-released survey from Northeastern University shows broad support for smoke-free living among tenants, a finding that activists plan to share in coming months with landlords, tenants, and condo boards.
“This isn’t government shoving it down the tenants’ throat,” said Jim Bergman, who directs the Smoke-Free Environments Law Project, which tracks the movement nationally. “When you start putting restrictions on where people can smoke in their home, even if it’s a rental home, they might feel that’s an infringement of their rights in a greater way than having smoke-free workplaces.”
Still, even this more gentle strategy is sure to rankle some smokers, who complain of being branded as pariahs.
Stephen Helfer, who has fought on behalf of smokers’ rights for years, said there is nothing subtle about efforts that he argues will further marginalize the poor and the mentally ill, who smoke at rates higher than the state average.
“I think they’re trying to almost blackmail landlords into doing this,” said Helfer, who lives in a Cambridge condo where smoking is allowed. “The reason they are not trying to regulate it is because they feel they don’t have the political will right now. But make no mistake: They’re going after us in our homes.”
In many respects, the home represents the final frontier of tobacco control.
Two decades ago, airlines and hospitals stood at the vanguard of campaigns to reduce smoking. Eventually, cigarettes, cigars, and pipes vanished from most offices, too. And, then, lawmakers on the West Coast, in the Northeast, and even in some tobacco-growing states, prohibited tobacco use in bars and restaurants.
That left the home as the last indoor refuge for tobacco users in states such as Massachusetts and California. It also made the home the next logical target for tobacco-control advocates.
And the reasons for wanting to bar smoking in apartments and condos are strikingly similar to those advanced in earlier campaigns for tobacco bans.
“People say, ‘I’m not being exposed to smoke at work anymore,’ and then they come home and they’re exposed all night from someone else at the opposite end of the building, and they have no way to escape it,” said Christopher Banthin, an attorney working with Northeastern’s Public Health Advocacy Institute.
In the California city, apartment tenants complained of smoke drifting under doors and cascading from air vents, triggering asthma attacks. An octogenarian who led the drive in the San Francisco suburb said there was no escape from his neighbors’ habit.
And those claims were bolstered by a 2006 report from the US surgeon general that concluded that even passing exposure to someone else’s cigarette smoke can prove perilous.
“People have criticized us and said this is a nanny state issue,” said former Belmont City Council member David Warden, who championed the regulation, which can result in a $100 fine for scofflaw smokers. “A nanny state to me is when you have laws that try to protect you from yourself.
“The intent here is to protect people from other people’s behavior.”
Last summer, Banthin’s institute conducted a telephone survey of more than 1,300 apartment and condo residents in 11 Massachusetts cities and towns, including Brookline, Cambridge, Somerville, and the Jamaica Plain section of Boston.
The survey, underwritten by the state Department of Public Health, found that three-fourths of residents whose buildings were not smoke-free either supported immediate implementation of a ban or were neutral. And 43 percent were willing to pay more to live in such a building.
Landlords, in a less scientifically reliable mail-in survey, also demonstrated enthusiasm for smoking bans – in no small part because landlords insist it can cost thousands of dollars to restore carpets and paint in units occupied by smokers. And condo boards that go smoke-free cite a lower fire risk and, potentially, reduced insurance costs.
The Mount Vernon Co., which owns apartment buildings on such tony corridors as Commonwealth Avenue and Newbury Street, was among the first to ban smoking. The policy, said Bruce A. Percelay, company chairman, reflects his own distaste for smoking and the economic benefits of going smoke-free.
“The question you may raise then is, why don’t more landlords do this?” Percelay said. “I believe that a lot of people think it’s illegal, but smokers are not a protected class. You cannot discriminate on the basis of race, color, creed, or national origin, but they didn’t include smokers in that.”
In fact, Banthin said courts have repeatedly affirmed the right of landlords and condo boards to prevent smoking anywhere in their buildings.
In Chelsea, the owners of Parkside Commons Apartment Homes tout the virtues of smoke-free living right next to other amenities listed on a website. In Boston, Archstone Avenir’s 241 smoke-free apartments won’t be ready for occupancy until the summer, but already, the sprawling building across from TD Banknorth Garden is generating unusually strong demand.
“This far out from occupancy, it’s rare to have any leases, and we have 20,” said Sally Matheu, an Archstone group vice president.
Bruce Winterton has lived in one of Mount Vernon’s buildings for three years. He moved from New York, where the smoke of downstairs neighbors wafted up during the summer.
Winterton said the smoke-free status of his Back Bay apartment – along with other amenities – made him more amenable to paying a loftier rent than he had expected. Still, he said, it’s one thing for a landlord to impose a ban. But a government prohibition?
“It seems odd to me to have some significant, formal regulation that prevents you from doing something in your house,” Winterton said. “I think it becomes a slippery slope.”

Boston bans cigarette sales in drug stores but delays cigar bar closings
December 11, 2008
By Stephen Smith, Globe Staff
Cigar bars and other swank salons devoted to smoking won a significant though temporary reprieve from Boston health regulators today, who decided that the establishments will face extinction in 10 years instead of the five-year grace period originally proposed as part of sweeping new tobacco control rules.
The regulations, approved unanimously by the Boston Public Health Commission, also ban cigarette sales at drugstores and on college campuses in the city and eliminate smoking on the patios of restaurants and bars with outside service. Those restrictions will go into effect in 60 days.
The restrictions give Boston among the most stringent antismoking laws in the United States and place it at the vanguard of widening campaigns to reduce cigarette smoking, especially among young people and the poor.
While major pharmacy chains and tobacco companies quietly fought the rules, the most fervent opposition emerged from the owners and patrons of cigar bars and hookah lounges, where customers take long drags on flavored tobacco from a communal water pipe.
After considering those protests, the health commission — which includes a top heart doctor and the leaders of two community health centers — decided that a five-year grace period would give the cigar bar and lounge owners too little time to prepare for the loss of their businesses.
At the end of the 10-year period, smoking bars may ask the executive director of the health commission for a further grace period, the commission decided. The city now has six cigar bars and five hookah lounges. No new ones will be permitted to open in the city, however.
“Cigarettes are bad, they’re harmful to people, there’s a need for us to change the social norms around cigarettes,” said commission member Harold Cox, an associate dean at the Boston University School of Public Health. “Our responsibility as governmental officials is to protect people.”

December 7, 2008
BOSTON— Sometimes Justin Hegarty savors his cigars by himself, and sometimes he enjoys them in a cigar bar with friends. “Either way, it’s relaxing,” said Hegarty, soon after an afternoon smoke at Churchill’s cigar lounge.
Hegarty may need to find a new city where he can wind down with his cherished stogies.
The Boston Public Health Commission is scheduled to vote soon on expanded smoking restrictions that would be among the nation’s toughest. The proposal would ban cigar bars and hookah bars, which currently enjoy exemptions from Boston’s four-year-old workplace smoking ban. It would also eliminate sales of tobacco in pharmacies and on college campuses.
The commission gave preliminary approval to the rules in September, and is scheduled for a final vote Thursday (December 11, 2008).
Boston would be the largest city, by far, to outlaw smoking bars. Hegarty was baffled about what the city hoped to accomplish, and said it seemed almost unconstitutional.

IPCPR Questions Proposed Boston Cigar Bar Ban
BOSTON, Massachusetts  November 14, 2008 – In a letter written today to the Boston Public Health Commission, the global association representing Boston area cigar bars laid out its reasons why the Commission should reject its proposal to ban cigar bars in the city.
The Commission has scheduled its vote on the matter for its December meeting and has announced it is seeking input from both sides of the issue for consideration prior to the vote.
 “I fear you may be basing your decision on information and data that remain inconclusive and enveloped in reasonable doubt…. There exists legitimate research… that contradicts such claims (regarding secondhand smoke), including those regarding the 2006 Surgeon General’s Report,” wrote Chris McCalla, legislative director of the International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers Association.
McCalla included with his letter to the Commission copies of several papers and reports that challenge the claims of anti-smoking groups regarding secondhand smoke. 
 “A cigar bar is a ‘destination location’ that a non-smoker would not enter… without first understanding the nature of the business” and that “…employees of cigar bars, like their patrons, are aficionados of premium cigars who choose their career based on their personal passions,” he wrote, implying that forcing cigar bars to close would be like forcing fast food outlets to close because they may employ overweight people who like to eat french fries.
McCalla also compared cigar bars to some of yesterday’s traditional gathering places.
“Cigar bars have become the modern-day ‘barbershop’ or ‘salon’ – a publicly-accessible, privately-owned business where people of varying demographics may gather for conversation and socializing,” McCalla wrote.
The IPCPR also maintains that owners of private property like cigar bars and other businesses have the Constitutional right under the Fifth Amendment to decide whether or not to allow smoking on their premises.  Customers and employees then have the right to patronize or work at those businesses, according to IPCPR literature.
“Certain businesses are adult destinations aimed at adults who enjoy cigars.  No adult non-smoker is going to accidentally walk into a cigar store or cigar bar, for example.  Even if they do, such incidental exposure to secondhand smoke is not going to harm them one bit,” McCalla maintained.
Tony Tortorici

October 31, 2008
Dear Mayor Menino,
As a regular business traveler, and one that has customers and vendors in Boston and the surrounding area, I have heard of the new Cigar and smoking restrictions that have been proposed by the Department of Health. I urge you to veto or override these new restrictions.
When I am on travel, I have the choice to go out and entertain, or stay in my room and have room service or go someplace fast to eat. I smoke, and many of my customers and vendors do also. And I must say I was VERY disappointed when the smoking restrictions went in for Boston and Massachusetts for restaurants.
One, Boston is not LA or San Francisco. It tends to be very cold in December or January, not exactly a time that I want to “go outside” to have a cigarette or cigar. Two, Boston was the site of the Boston Tea Party. Has history been lost that having unfair restrictions placed on people is not acceptable? Pornography is legal, and there are those that say it is a “Public Health” issue. Fishing is dangerous, as the movie the “Perfect Storm” and the show the “Most Dangerous Catch” have so well documented. But we did not outlaw fishing, and people can still choose to pursue that as a profession. Why can’t a restaurant or bar owner choose to offer smoking? They can post that smoking is permitted, and if those that choose not to be around smoking do not want to enter there is no law making them do so. While smoking was permitted in Boston there were MANY no smoking restaurants. People had a choice. That was in the spirit on the Boston Tea party. Have all the descendants died off, and their memory been erased?  
I would be very happy to see full choice brought back to Boston and Massachusetts, but if that is not possible please do not make the slide even more downhill. Please veto or stop the new smoking restrictions that have been proposed.
Robert Deitz
Government Technology Solutions
4110 Business Drive
Shingle Springs, CA 95667-9494

Not the duty of health officials to police our lives
September 12, 2008
THE COMMENT of Barbara Ferrer, executive director of the Boston Public Health Commission, that tobacco has no “redeeming value” is not only arrogant, but medically inaccurate (“High noon for cigarettes,” Editorial, Sept. 7).
For her, smoking may have no value, but for almost 20 percent of American adults who are forced to endure social stigma, exposure to the elements, and punitive taxes to smoke, the habit apparently “at least in some ways” must be desirable.
Does Ferrer believe smokers are neither qualified nor entitled to make their own decisions?
In addition to the pleasure and sociability many persons derive from tobacco, nicotine has been demonstrated to elevate mood, ease anxiety, and improve concentration. For the mentally ill in particular, these effects are highly valuable. Nicotine has even been shown to ease some of the symptoms of schizophrenia.
It is the duty of public health officials to educate and protect the public. They are not authorized to run our lives or to misrepresent medical evidence.

University Whores Take Cash from Big Tobacco
31 March 2008
RUSH: “Have you seen this in the Boston Globe today? This is hilarious. “Tobacco,” Big Tobacco, “Funds Massachusetts Researchers — The nation’s largest cigarette maker has paid for scientific research at four Massachusetts universities since 2000, a practice that critics of the tobacco industry liken to the Mafia underwriting crime fighting. Philip Morris USA, which makes Marlboro and other top-selling cigarette lines, gave grants to scientists at Boston University, Harvard University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and the University of Massachusetts…”
Now, I don’t care what it was for. The point about this is, universities are just whores and they will take money from anybody. Even while professors on their faculty are out there reaming all these tobacco companies and other “unacceptable” corporate elements (which, to liberals, would include most corporate elements), while they’re out there ripping them to shreds and trying to destroy ’em, their universities have the hands open and will take money from virtually anyone.”

State slipped in national ranking of anti-smoking efforts
By Brian Boyd, Standard-Times staff writer
December 13, 2007
Massachusetts ranks 33rd in the nation in funding tobacco prevention programs, down from 31st place, according to a report on states’ anti-smoking efforts. The report was released Wednesday by a coalition of public health organizations.
The state spends $12.8 million a year on prevention programs, just over a third of the minimum amount recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, according to the report.
Last year, Massachusetts spent $8.3 million on tobacco prevention.
The annual report, titled “A Broken Promise to Our Children,” was released by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, the American Heart Association, the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network and the American Lung Association.
The report’s findings for Massachusetts include:
• Tobacco companies spend more than $194 million a year on marketing in Massachusetts. That is more than 15 times what the state spends on prevention.
• The state will collect $711 million this year from the tobacco settlement and tobacco taxes, but will spend 1.8 percent of it on anti-smoking programs.
While the report painted a dim picture of anti-tobacco efforts, a New Bedford-based advocate offered a more upbeat picture of the state’s prevention measures.
After deep cuts in previous years, Gov. Deval Patrick has shown commitment to improving the situation, said Judith Coykendall, program manager for Partners for Clear Air, a program of Seven Hills Behavioral Health.
“Things are getting better,” she said. “Even though that news is bad, we really feel we’re on an upswing.”
Last month, Gov. Patrick announced a tobacco cessation campaign that will run through April and feature advertising on television, the Internet, buses and trains, as well as a companion Web site,, according to a news release at the time.
The national report said that although Massachusetts increased funds for tobacco prevention programs this year, current funding is below the $48 million the state spent in fiscal 2002, when it ranked first in the nation.
“Massachusetts has made a modest improvement in protecting kids from tobacco, but budget cuts have reduced the effectiveness of what was once one of the nation’s best tobacco prevention programs,” William V. Corr, executive director of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, said in the news release.
Nine years after the 1998 state tobacco settlement, the report finds that the states this year have increased total funding for tobacco prevention programs by 20 percent, to $717.2 million.
However, most states still fail to fund prevention programs at minimum levels recommended by the CDC. Only three states — Maine, Delaware and Colorado — fund prevention programs at CDC minimum levels, the national report said.
Contact Brian Boyd at

State smoking ban back in the hot seat

By Emelie Rutherford/ MetroWest Daily News
September 7, 2005

Lawmakers will take another look at the workplace smoking ban today, though observers predict the health-inspired law that started 14 months ago to jeers from puffers around the state won’t change.

Some bills up for consideration by the joint Public Health Committee would extend the smoking ban by including parks and beaches, while others would scale back the ban and allow some bargoers to light up again.

Yet state Rep. Peter Koutoujian, (D-Waltham), House chairman of the committee, predicts there isn’t momentum on Beacon Hill to tweak the once-controversial law right now in either direction.

“By all reports the smoking ban has been widely successful,” Koutoujian said.

The Harvard School of Public Health released a report earlier this year that found bars and other hospitality venues actually saw slightly higher sales overall during the first six months of the smoking ban.

“I think it’s become a much more enjoyable situation for the guests,” said Steve Uliss, owner of Firefly’s Bodacious Bar-B-Que and Beyond in Marlboro and Framingham, who said he lost no business because of the smoking ban.

 Yet state Rep. Marie Parente, (D-Milford), said smaller establishments in her district have suffered since the smoking ban started.

She has a bill before the Public Health committee today to give communities the right to exempt bars that can demonstrate a 15 percent loss of business since the smoking ban started on July 5, 2004.

Other smoking ban-related bills before the Public Health Committee would allow smoking in establishments while Beano is being played.

Bring back cigs

If state Senator Charles E. Shannon has his way, you could be smoking in bars again soon. A Shannon-sponsored bill would suspend the statewide ban for bars that generate less than 10 percent of their income from food. Shannon spokesman Sean J. Fitzgerald said the senator is seeking a compromise for bar owners who were seriously hurt by loss of revenue from the ban. A similar bill failed to pass last year.

January 30, 2005

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.