Montana Clean Indoor Air Act Enforcement Citizen-Driven by Design

In 2005, the Montana legislature passed the Clean Indoor Air Act (CIAA). The law required all enclosed public places and workplaces to be smokefree by October 1, 2009. Many restaurant and tavern owners embraced the new law, using the four year phase-in timeframe to remodel their establishments. Some owners replaced smoke infused carpeting and removed or painted smoke-stained wall coverings to eliminate past evidence of smoking. These improvements benefitted the health of cooks, servers, bartenders, delivery and janitorial personnel, as well as patrons. Additionally, some restaurant and tavern owners chose to install three-sided outdoor smoking shelters to accommodate smokers and provide protection from the weather.

A recent ruling from the Montana Supreme Court regarding smoking in local establishments has heightened community awareness about the issue. The Cascade City-County Health Department has received a higher number of inquiries and complaints in the last few weeks since that ruling, and wants to ensure the public has a clear understanding how they can have their concerns heard. By design, enforcement of the Clean Indoor Air Act is citizen-driven. Anyone who observes or suspects a violation of the Clean Indoor Air Act can describe the behavior they observed on a simple reporting form available at www.tobaccofree.mt.gov or by calling and voicing their complaint to the Montana Department of Health and Human Services by calling toll-free to 1-866-787-5247. In the Great Falls area, the complaint form can be accessed at http://bit.ly/1BbQngG or by calling the City-County Tobacco Prevention Specialist, Teddy Nault at 452-0881 x 307. The citizen-driven process helps ensure the Clean Indoor Air Act is being followed. Those in violation of the law are subject to progressively increasing fines with successive confirmed violations.

The intention of the Clean Indoor Air Act is to protect Montanan’s right to breathe clean air and protect public health by prohibiting smoking in public places and places of employment. Twenty-six states across the United States have enacted Clean Indoor Air Act laws. Montana is the 18th state nationwide to adopt a law requiring 100% smokefree workplaces, restaurants and bars. The law clearly reduces exposure to secondhand smoke among workers and the public; and a Surgeon General report dated 2006 indicates it helps smokers quit and/or reduce the number of cigarettes they smoke and provides a stronger positive behavioral influence for children.

In 2006, the U.S. Surgeon General declared, there is no safe level of exposure to secondhand tobacco smoke. Secondhand smoke is a risk factor for lung cancer, heart disease, asthma, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, and other serious illnesses. It is estimated that secondhand smoke caused nearly 34,000 heart disease deaths each year during 2005–2009 among adult nonsmokers in the United States. Since 1964, approximately 2,500,000 nonsmokers have died from health problems caused by exposure to secondhand smoke states the U.S. Department of Health and Human Service as cited in The Health Consequences of Smoking—50 Years of Progress: A Report of the Surgeon General.

To learn more about the Montana Clean Indoor Air Act go to www.dphhhsmt.gov.

Resources:

  •  U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The Health Consequences of Smoking—50 Years of Progress: A Report of the Surgeon General. Atlanta: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Office on Smoking and Health, 2014 [accessed 2014 Feb 6].
  •  US Department of Health and Human Services. The health consequences of involuntary exposure to tobacco smoke: a report of the Surgeon General. Atlanta, GA: US Department of Health and Human Services, CDC; 2006. Available at http://www.surgeongeneral.gov/library/secondhandsmoke/report/fullreport.pdf.

All media inquiries should be directed to Sue Anne Warren, Chair of the Board of Health 455-5931 (office) or Bill Bronson, Vice-Chair of the Board of Health 315-1181 (office)

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