October marks six years since the Montana Clean Indoor Act (CIAA) was initially enacted and two years since full implementation, when bars and casinos became smoke free.
Compliance with the Montana CIAA continues to be high among Pondera County’s workplaces and businesses. The CIAA is a significant advance in public health policy in Montana. The health benefits of smoke free workplace policies, such as the CIAA, are numerous and include decreased exposure to secondhand smoke, reduced number of heart attacks and increased number of Montana smokers who quit.
The Montana smoke free law is based on scientific evidence. This evidence has consistently demonstrated that breathing secondhand smoke has immediate harmful effects on the cardiovascular system. In fact, nonsmokers who are exposed to secondhand smoke at home or work have a 25-30 percent increased risk of developing heart disease.
To date, the Clean Air Reporting System, an online system for logging citizen complaints about violations to the law, has received 160 valid complaints, which were CIAA violations (in 83 businesses). Assistance has been provided to those businesses in order to help them with compliance issues. Anyone who observes a violation of the law in any enclosed public place or workplace in Montana is encouraged to report it online at www.tobaccofree.mt.gov or call 1-866-787-5247.
Due to success with the Clean Indoor Air Act, Montana Tobacco Use Prevention Program (MTUPP) continues to move forward with promoting other important smoke free and tobacco free policies in Montana. The Program assists with the development of comprehensive smoke free policies among Montana public housing authorities as well as other federal, state, and local rent-restricted, multi-unit housing facilities. These policies will help reduce secondhand smoke exposure where people live, protecting vulnerable, at-risk Montanans, including children and seniors.
MTUPP also assists hospitals, medical facilities and colleges/universities in Montana with the development and implementation of campus-wide tobacco free policies. There are currently 39 tobacco free medical campuses and five tobacco free college/university campuses.
Although MTUPP’s funding was cut in half during the 2011 Legislative Session, the program continues to work statewide on its four goal areas: 1). Preventing tobacco use among young people, 2). Eliminating exposure to secondhand smoke, 3). Eliminating disparities related to tobacco use and its effects among certain population groups; and 4). Promoting quitting among adults and young people.
The Montana Tobacco Quit Line continues to offer free and reduced cost benefits to all Montana residents. If you are interested in quitting, call 1-800-QUIT-NOW.
The Montana Clean Indoor Air Act recognizes individuals’ right to breathe smoke free air and protects every Montanan from the dangers of exposure to secondhand smoke in the workplace. The U.S. Surgeon General has concluded there is no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke and the only way to protect public health is to eliminate exposure.