Friday, February 27, 2009

Central Virginia's Eric Cantor makes the list

Yes Eric Cantor is very likable as the article linked here states.
Politics aside, he is a genuinely nice solid family man who at times seems uncomfortable with the more angry divisive rhetoric coming from the corners of his party. Managing all the apples in his basket must require the skills of a neurosurgeon.
A solidly fiscal conservative who will go on Fox and CNN at any moment to discuss a financial budget issue I must say the water gets murkier on his position on social issues and health care. (Is it a right or a privilege, inquiring minds want to know?)

Friday Line: Ten Republicans to Watch - The Fix

The DAVISReport

Friday, February 20, 2009

Power To The People! Where's My Pen Says Gov. Kaine!

400 hundred Years ago slavery and tobacco were the two economic engines that founded Virginia. Well slavery is long gone and racism publicly denounced but tobacco's roots in Virginia, being the insidious weed that it is, has proven to be a lot harder to pluck from our garden.
As a healthcare professional who has seen with my own eyes people remove their oxygen to go sit outside in the cold to smoke a cigarette through the hole in their neck (I swear every word is true)I know sadly too well the human health toll it exacts and tobacco's additive grasp. It is for this reason that today is a great day in Virginia when people not politics prevailed, when the currency of commonsense meant more than than the currency of big Tobacco lobbyists who fought hard to stop Public Smoking Legislation in Virginia.
That's right the Statehouse in Richmond Virginia,the Mother Ship of Big Tobacco and Philip Morris has finally succumbed to what Del Kilgore called an oncoming "Train" of overwhelming public sentiment who favored this legislation.
Delegate Kilgore who offered amendments to try and weaken the bill per my last entry accepted defeat saying, "One thing I have learned in politics is, don't get in front of a train". Well Mr Kilgore you still don't get it, Public Smoking legislation was never about politics, it was always a non partisan public health issue and
now it will soon be
The Law.
The highlights:
-Prohibits smoking inside all public restaurants, with exceptions for eateries with separately ventilated closed off smoking areas
- Exemption for private clubs only
-Permits smoking in open outdoor patio
- If patio area is the only public entrance it must have a raised open roof
-An employer cannot force an employee to work in the closed off smoking area
The DAVISReport

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Let's Not and Say We Did! The Truth about the Virginia's New Smoking Law Proposal

Virginia's Proposed Smokefree Compromise was pretty weak and far from Smokefree to begin with, but with Terry Kilgore's amendments added it is a downright farce that needs a new name. Per the Press Release below, all this legislation is now is a pretend bill whose function is to confuse the 75% who want Smokefree into believing that legislation was passed. To add to the duplicity, Terry Kilgore has proposed that the new law not go into effect until January 2010 (after November's local delegate elections, how convenient!) to avoid the public living the reality of this farce before the election. Another of Kilgore's amendments completely throws out all Smokefree public protection if no minors are allowed.( because second hand smoke only kills you when the "youngins" are around)! Is this like calories don't count if you eat standing up?
The details:

Virginia Smoke-Free Compromise Goes from Bad to Worse
And Should be Rejected By Senate and Gov. Kaine
Statement of Matthew L. Myers
President, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids

WASHINGTON, DC (February 10, 2009) – The Virginia House of Delegates once again has put the interests of the tobacco industry ahead of Virginians’ health by approving weak, loophole-filled smoke-free restaurant legislation that fails to protect workers and the public from the proven dangers of secondhand smoke. We urge the Senate to reject this bill – and Governor Kaine to veto it, if it reaches his desk – and instead enact a real, comprehensive smoke-free law that protects every Virginian’s right to breathe clean, smoke-free air.
If the House-passed legislation is enacted into law, Virginia WILL NOT join the ranks of the 24 states (and Washington, DC) that have enacted strong smoke-free laws that covers restaurants and bars. Instead, Virginia will become an example of what not to do – and will earn the distinction of having one of the worst statewide smoke-free laws in the nation. Far from representing a break with Virginia’s long history of being beholden to the tobacco industry, the House-passed legislation represents a continuation of that history that has cost the state so much in lives, health and health care dollars lost to tobacco use.
The amendments approved by the House yesterday made an already bad bill even worse. As originally introduced, the legislation already included significant loopholes designed to appease the interests of Big Tobacco, including exemptions for private clubs, smoking rooms in restaurants and weak enforcement provisions. The revised bill further weakens the legislation by eliminating the requirement that smoking rooms be separately ventilated, permitting smoking in rooms separated only by doors, exempting restaurants hosting private functions, and permitting smoking at any establishment where under-age patrons are not admitted.
The U.S. Surgeon General has found that there is no risk-free level of exposure to secondhand smoke and that the only way to protect nonsmokers from secondhand smoke is to require smoke-free workplaces and public places. Other approaches, such as air ventilation systems and smoking and non-smoking sections, do not eliminate exposure to secondhand smoke.
This legislation does not protect the health of Virginians and goes against the wishes of a large majority of Virginians who don’t want to risk their health in order to earn a paycheck or enjoy a night out in a restaurant. In a January 2009 poll, 75 percent of Virginia voters said they support a statewide law that makes all restaurants completely smoke-free.
While some have touted House passage of this smoke-free restaurant legislation as an historic cultural shift for a traditional tobacco state, it is far from a new day in Virginia. The truth is, this is the latest example of state leaders choosing the interests of the tobacco industry over the interests of their constituents. In addition to introducing this unacceptable smoke-free legislation, lawmakers so far have refused to increase the state cigarette tax – which would keep thousands of kids from smoking and help pay for critical programs – and are currently considering cutting the state’s tobacco prevention program.

Facts about Secondhand Smoke and Smoke-Free Laws:
* Twenty-four states, Washington, DC, and Puerto Rico – as well as hundreds of cities and towns – have passed smoke-free laws that cover restaurants and bars. The states are Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Rhode Island, Utah, Vermont and Washington.
* Secondhand smoke contains more than 4,000 chemicals, including at least 69 carcinogens. The Surgeon General found that secondhand smoke is a proven cause of lung cancer, heart disease, serious respiratory illnesses such as bronchitis, low birth weight and sudden infant death syndrome.
* The evidence is clear that smoke-free laws protect health without harming business. As the Surgeon General concluded, “Evidence from peer-reviewed studies shows that smoke-free policies and regulations do not have an adverse impact on the hospitality industry.”
Email or call your legislator today and let them know you expect them to put people first!
The DAVISReport

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Robbing Peter to Pay Paul

It is important to remember that the Tobacco Settlement Foundation money comes from a 1998 court settlement. At that time,the Attorneys General of 46 states, including Virginia, signed the Master Settlement Agreement (MSA) with the four largest tobacco manufacturers in the United States to settle state suits to recover costs associated with treating smoking-related illness. The spirit and intent of the MSA was to provide states with funding for tobacco use prevention programs that would ultimately lower the prevalence of tobacco use, thus lowering medical costs to care for citizens with tobacco-related diseases. According to the MSA, the tobacco manufacturers are projected to pay the settling states in excess of $200 billion over the next 25 years. Virginia is expected to receive approximately 4 billion.
Well, lookie here at the press release below, seems the legislators have quietly raided the till to pay for obesity programs for kids ( the bill passed). Can't they just put daily gym back in elementary school and take Mcdonald's concessions out of the cafeteria?
The DAVISReport
HB2456 Threatens the Virginia Tobacco Settlement Foundation’s Progress
in Reducing Youth Smoking
RICHMOND, VA (February 4, 2009) -- The American Lung Association in Virginia and the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids are opposed to House Bill 2456, which is under consideration in the Virginia General Assembly. It is likely to come up for a vote in the House General Laws Committee as early as February 5 or as late as next week.

This legislation would change the name of the Virginia Tobacco Settlement Foundation (VTSF) to the Virginia Foundation for Healthy Youth and create two divisions within the new entity: Virginia Tobacco Prevention and Virginia Youth Obesity Prevention. As written, HB2456 allows the youth obesity program to use the 10 percent of Master Settlement Agreement (MSA) funds currently dedicated to VTSF -- with the only restriction being that the VTSF funds are for the “primary purpose” of tobacco prevention. While VTSF is doing a good job with the resources it has, it makes absolutely no sense to dilute the budget of an agency that is already underfunded.

The American Lung Association in Virginia and the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids support amending HB2456 to place a cap on the total tobacco funds available to obesity prevention at $100,000 per year. The cap would prevent substantial amounts of tobacco money from being diverted from their intended purpose. The evidence is clear -- we should be expanding funding for tobacco prevention and cessation, not cutting it.

Virginia receives $310 million annually in tobacco taxes and tobacco settlement payments, yet spends less than 5 percent of this revenue on tobacco prevention. The state’s funding for tobacco prevention is a mere 13 percent of the best-practices level recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Ninety percent of Virginia’s tobacco settlement dollars are already directed away from tobacco prevention and cessation. Tobacco settlement funds should be used for tobacco prevention.

Tobacco prevention programs reduce smoking and save lives. Studies have shown that the more states spend on tobacco prevention, the lower the youth smoking rates and overall tobacco use. Already, VTSF initiatives have helped reduce youth smoking by a dramatic 28.6 percent in just two years -- with 15.5 percent of Virginia high school students smoking in 2007, compared with 21.7 percent in 2005.

Tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of death in Virginia (and every state). It kills more than 9,000 Virginians every year and results in more than $2 billion in tobacco-related health care costs. It is critical that we fund tobacco prevention programs to keep kids from smoking because the tobacco companies are spending record amounts to market and promote their products. The most recent data show the tobacco companies spend almost $440 million each year on marketing and promotion in Virginia alone -- much of which influences kids to smoke.

Recent polling shows that the public clearly supports using tobacco money for tobacco prevention. By nearly a 2-to-1 margin, Virginia voters support funding tobacco prevention at the level recommended by the CDC. A majority of Democrats, Republicans and independents support funding tobacco prevention at the CDC- recommended level. In addition, while the state spends just 4 percent of its tobacco settlement and tobacco tax money on tobacco prevention and cessation, 76 percent of Virginia voters think the state should spend a quarter or more of the tobacco revenue on those efforts.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Healthier Days In Virginia are Coming!

The press release below reviews Virginia's compromise smoking bill legislation agreement. It's not Smokefree, buts its Virginia and as good a deal as Gov. Kaine could broker. The Devils in the details, however; example, a fine for noncompliance for a half wall (huh?) is $25.00 ( a parking ticket is more!) and staff walking in and out between closed rooms will be exposed and contaminate the nonsmoking area beyond acceptable levels especially for people with respiratory conditions like asthma.
Final vote comes Monday?
The DAVISReport

Governor February 5, 2009

Contact: Gordon Hickey
Phone: (804) 225-4260
Cell Phone: (804) 291-8977

~ Statewide ban will prohibit smoking in most bars and restaurants~

RICHMOND—Governor Timothy M. Kaine and key leaders in the General Assembly today announced a landmark agreement to pass a statewide smoking ban in Virginia’s bars and restaurants. The legislation will ban smoking in nearly all restaurants across the Commonwealth, allowing narrow exceptions for private clubs and restaurants with a designated smoking room that is physically separated and independently ventilated from non-smoking dining areas.

“The dangers of second-hand smoke are undeniable—that’s why I made a restaurant smoking ban one of my legislative priorities. This legislation will make Virginia’s restaurants safer for both patrons and employees,” Governor Kaine said. “I’m proud to have been able to work with leaders in both parties of the General Assembly to find common ground on this reasonable and necessary public health measure.”

Today’s announcement comes after Governor Kaine worked closely with legislative leaders to craft an agreement acceptable to both parties and both houses.

Virginia House Speaker William Howell also noted the agreement as a step forward for Virginians: “I am pleased to join in announcing a reasonable compromise on an issue important to Virginians,” said Speaker Howell. “The compromise strikes a fair balance between the rights of smokers who choose to enjoy a legal product and the rights of other individuals who want to enjoy a smoke-free environment when eating at a restaurant. This legislation is all about finding opportunities for cooperation and compromise where possible. And, where state leaders can find and share such common ground, we should.”

Second-hand smoke is responsible for an estimated 1,700 deaths per year, according to the Virginia Department of Health. In addition, the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids estimates the Commonwealth spends $113 million a year on health care expenditures related to exposure to second-hand smoke.

To improve the health of Virginia’s employees and minimize health risks in the work place, Governor Kaine signed Executive Order 41 banning smoking in all state buildings and vehicles in October 2006.

The agreement makes Virginia part of a growing list of states around the country that are passing legislation curbing smoking in restaurants. Twenty-three other states and Puerto Rico have already passed bans on smoking indoors at bars and restaurants. Maryland and the District of Columbia passed similar restrictions on smoking in restaurants in 2007 and 2006, respectively.