By MaryAnn Clingingsmith
Protecting citizens from exposure to secondhand tobacco smoke is one of the most important measures a state can take to improve public health. The 2005 legislature amended the Montana Clean Indoor Air Act to clarify that the rights of citizens to breathe smoke-free air takes priority over the desire to smoke.
Why is a smoking ban important? Smoking adversely affects everyone! There are countless studies and examples highlighting the dangers of smoking for smokers and non-smokers alike. Secondhand smoke is a toxin that can cause cancer and heart disease. Each year, an estimated 200 non-smoking Montanans die from breathing someone else’s tobacco smoke in the workplace or at home. Secondhand smoke is also associated with children’s asthma as well as bronchitis and pneumonia in people of all ages.
Not only does smoking result in serious health consequences, it also has a monetary impact. According to the Campaign for Tobacco Free kids, annual health care costs in Montana directly caused by smoking is at $277 million dollars! The portion of that amount covered by the state Medicaid program is $67 million. This results in a state and federal tax burden for Montana residents at $557 per household per year.
If you need help quitting tobacco, the Montana Tobacco Quit Line is a free service available to help you. They offer free nicotine replacement therapy (patches, gum or lozenges) as well as a reduced rate on prescription Chantix and prescription bupropion as an additional cessation benefit. Free counseling is also a part of the program.
Published April 7, 2010