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Vigilance needed on Montana's smokefree law

Publication Date: 2013-09-01
  • Author:Opinion: Jim Aherns
  • Publication:Helena Independent Record

On October 1, 2009, the state of Montana took a great leap forward in protecting the state's workers, when it extended the Clean Indoor Air Act to include all bars and casinos.

For the first time, all Montana indoor public places and workplaces became smokefree. It's a moment in history all Montanans should be able to boldly celebrate this Labor Day. Sadly, some cannot.

The Montana workers for whom this Labor Day is diminished are the people who work at several casinos in Great Falls, where they are exposed to secondhand smoke as the price they pay for their jobs. For them, this is not a Labor Day that commemorates more than a century of American respect and care for those who toil.

These employees' bosses, the owners of five Great Falls casinos, elected to attach special rooms to their casinos where patrons can smoke, drink and gamble. I believe these rooms are in direct violation of Montana’s Clean Indoor Air Act. What is more, if we as Montanans stand by and allow these rooms to remain, we threaten the clean air we all have come to expect in our own workplaces and inside any other building open to the public.

Make no mistake: there is no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke. This fact is established not only in reams of research reports published in peer-reviewed scientific journals and affirmed by no less than the U.S. Surgeon General. It is also written in human tragedy of lives first scarred, then lost by cancer, heart disease and a multitude of other diseases...

Let's not put Great Falls casino workers through a similar tragedy. Let's let them celebrate Labor Day this year and every year. And let's all stand up for clean indoor air in every Montana workplace. It's the least we can expect of ourselves. For information on how to get involved go to:

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