Montana's workplaces, restaurants, bars, and casinos are 100% smokefree.
Montana's restaurants have been smokefree since 2005, and Montana's bars and non-tribal casinos went 100% smokefree in 2009. Thanks to this strong statewide law, workers and visitors all across the state enjoy completely smokefree workplaces. In addition, local cities and counties once prohibited from passing local laws, are now able to pass local smokefree laws that are stronger than state law.
Montanans love their new smokefree workplace law, with nearly 9 out of 10 people supporting the smokefree restaurant provision and 76% of residents supporting smokefree the bar and casino provision (Montana Adult Tobacco Survey, 2009).
for more information about the law or how to file a complaint. Signage can be
acquired by calling 1-866-787-5274.
2014 State Legislative Session: No regular session
American Cancer Society Quitline: 800-QUIT-NOW (800-784-8669)
Smokefree & Related News
Falls public split on casino smoke rooms
e-cigarettes, speed limits and human trafficking
banning e-cigarette sales to minors headed to governor
board starts to weigh casino smoke room rules
high school rodeo in Laurel
rise of e-cigs
to consider possible rules for casino smoke rooms
can't handle the truth about e-cigarettes
offers signs for tobacco-free parks; board unsure whether to accept
Senate Votes To Ban E-Cigarettes For Minors
sound off on intelligent design, smoking shacks
Notes: Teamwork creating healthier communities
Student Journalist Breaks Rules, Raises Questions About ...
hear from health care community
More harm than good?
should make parks tobacco free
goes after Curtis' oil infrastructure votes; bashes federal ...
courthouse smokers will have to move across the street
risks of e-cigarettes marketed to youth
wellness emphasizes cancer screening
University has an image problem: You
smoke isn't safe for anyone
flap: County health worker oversteps law with electronic cig ...
should stay focused on Montana issues
camp lays positive foundations for tribal youth
Each year the GONA event is held at different locations in Montana to forward its anti-tobacco/substance-abuse message and this year, the Flathead ...
a tobacco-free society
over e-cigarettes continue in Missoula
regulation concerns local health officials
approve cross-country team, BPA chapter
bans on selling, using, promoting e-cigarettes
It in the Butt: Students pick up cigarettes as part of cleanup
pick up cigarettes as part of cleanup
on Smoking began 50 years ago with Surgeon General's report
MATTERS: Myths, truths about hookah smoking
law: Bartender grateful for indoor ban
making progress in cutting tobacco use
votes for more hours for executive positions
opinion: Montanans can prevent smoking deaths
opinion: Smoking lounges should be widely accepted in state
Falls casino smoking rooms involved in another lawsuit
Falls casino smoking rooms called into question
'E' cigs unregulated
there's no smoke, there's fire
Indoor Air Act: Indian Center urges tobacco-free life
Falls leaders discuss utility services, tobacco free parks, and ...
needed on Montana's smokefree law
considers tobacco-free-campus policy
Great Falls 'smoke shacks' violating the Clean Indoor Air Act?
A group of Great Falls health advocates are accusing at least nine
bars and casinos in that city of not being in compliance with Montana's
Clean Indoor Air Act. The law prohibits smoking in public buildings
and fully went into effect in 2009. At issue are so-called 'smoke shacks'
attached to the casinos. These ventilated rooms allow people to smoke,
drink and use gaming machines. Bar owners are open-air vents in the
rooms make them technically not indoor, enclosed, spaces.
over GFalls casinos' smoking shelters
events will remain tobacco-free
LGBT group to discuss tobacco marketing strategies
The advertisements give gay people the impression that the tobacco industry whole-heartedly supports the legitimization and approval of the LGBT community....
At Five going tobacco-free for first 3 sessions
in Choteau set for May 4-5
health official warns Butte bars about smoking ban violations
moving to be a smoke-free facility
medical marijuana advocates push final bill aimed at 2011 ...
Public Schools acknowledged as a Tobacco Free School District ...
commission OKs tobacco free park proposal
Park may go tobacco-free
looks to go tobacco free
encourages apartments to go smoke-free
to new smoke-free campus at TMC
Kudos to the Teton County Hospital District Board and the Teton Medical Center administration and staff on the hospital's conversion to a smoke-free campus as ...
Health is Tobacco Free
BILLINGS - RiverStone Health went tobacco-free Monday, making it the 48th medical or healthcare organization in Montana to implement the policy. ...
Tobacco Use Prevention Program promotes smoke-free policies in public
MSU campus ban starts Wednesday
Brandi Higgins would like to quit smoking someday, but still she isn't pleased that starting Wednesday the Montana State University campus where she works ...
could be banned at park
When Centennial Park formally opens in September, it may be a tobacco-free
area, and depending on how that goes, additional outdoor venues in Helena
County Fairgrounds gets smoking ban
Missoula City-County Health Department Tobacco Free Coordinator Erica
Rollins says the ban will also limit secondhand smoke exposure to some
Montana Fair goes "smoke free" this year
MISSOULA- The old expression smoke them if you've got them. ... County
has decided to enact a complete smoking ban on the fairgrounds citing
the safety ... County commissioners signed the resolution banning smoking
in early May, citing a ...
trustees hear smoking complaint
At its regular May meeting on Monday, the Flathead Valley Community
College Board of Trustees raised the age for the senior tuition benefit
to 65 and heard a student complaint about the campus smoking policy.
The college now only allows smoking in designated areas. ...
He said secondhand smoke kills 50000 people each year, and that about
four Montanans die ...
Bet Casino owner fined for smoking ban violations
Smoking in Best Bet Casino got expensive Wednesday for the casinos
owner. Justice of the Peace Mike Swingley fined Sandy Jones, 58, the
owner of the casino at 1225 Euclid Ave., the maximum fines, totaling
$800, for three different violations of the Montana Clean Indoor Air
Act in 2010.
State campuses to go smoke free this fall
of Best Bet Casino violated smoking ban, jury decides
Sandy Jones, owner of Best Bet Casino at 1225 Euclid Ave., was found guilty of failing to enforce the indoor smoking ban three times in 2010, according to ...
Falls business wrestles with indoor smoking law
When the Montana Clean Indoor Air Act went into effect, several bar
and casino owners in Great Falls saw a 25% drop in business. ...
so far complying with University of Montana's tobacco ban
Several times last week, Julee Stearns strolled along Arthur and Beckwith avenues offering free-drink coupons to smokers standing in the grassy area between the street and the sidewalk. ...
School Year Tobacco Free At UM
Western campus in Dillon goes tobacco free
to end smoking in Glacier Peaks Casino
Smoking no longer will be allowed at the Glacier Peaks Casino in Browning.
tribal casino goes smoke free
leaders vote to make campus tobacco-free
panel chops tobacco-prevention funds, family planning
Republicans on a legislative budget panel voted Monday to cut nearly
all state funding for tobacco-prevention programs, and instead use part
of the money to maintain spending for nursing homes and home-health
programs for the elderly. ...
gambling revenues down for two previous years
HELENA Buffeted by the recession and later the indoor-smoking ban in taverns and casinos, video gambling revenues in Montana dropped 2 percent in fiscal 2009 over the previous year and then plunged by 16 percent in fiscal year 2010, the state Gambling Control Division has reported.
The revenue fall from fiscal 2008 to 2009 marked the first decline in the 20-year history of the tax, the division said in its biennial report. The Gambling Control Division is part of the state Justice Department.
Video gambling machine tax collections for fiscal 2008 totaled $63.4 million. Tax collections from electronic poker and keno machines in fiscal 2009 dropped to $62.1 million.
Then in fiscal 2010, revenues dropped again, this time to $52.4 million, or 16 percent from the previous year, as the state's Indoor Clean Air Act took effect Oct. 1, 2009, for bars and casinos, four years after it applied to other businesses.
The state imposes a 15 percent tax on what's defined as the gross income
from video gambling machines. It is applied to the income of the poker
and keno machines, which is the amount of money played in the machine
minus the payouts in winnings. If $100 is wagered on a video gambling
machine and players won $30, the gross income for that day would be
out: Montanans buying fewer cigarettes
That was before he was diagnosed with emphysema. Carter, 63, hasn't touched one of his favored USA Gold cigarettes since Oct. 13.
"I'm in the first stages of the disease," he said. "It's there, it's a concern. I've tried quitting before, but that did it."
He relies on Chantix, a smoking cessation medicine, to help him quit. At $174 per month, it's cheaper than smoking. He's finding that ditching the smokes has some other benefits.
"I used to gamble a lot, too," Carter said. "When they banned smoking in bars, taverns and casinos, I quit gambling, too. I used to go to restaurants for pie and coffee, but I quit that, too."
When Billings Clinic and St. Vincent Healthcare designated their campuses
smoke-free in 2005 and imposed a string of rules, Jennifer Hoffert cried
foul. She had been smoking since high school and considered it her right.
. . .
When Richard Sargent was a child, his parents pointed to a spot on the underside of a bridge where someone had scribbled a name. There are better ways to leave behind a meaningful mark, they told him.
The 53-year-old physician apparently took the advice to heart. Youll find his name scrawled into crystal, burned into metal, etched into wood. All awards recognizing his work to make the world a healthier place through his efforts at creating tobacco-free environments in Helena and other communities.
His name is also attached to a study he conducted along with Dr. Robert Shepard. The two tracked the correlation over several years between heart attacks and tobacco use. The study showed a significant reduction in the number of hospital admissions due to heart attacks during the six months of 2002 when Helenas Clean Ari Ordinance was in effect. The study has been replicated at least 16 times around the world. ...
Pumps to add smoking 'huts'
Town Pump's properties in Great Falls will soon have external structures for smokers.
Cory Benjamin of Town Pump presented plans for six of the smoking "huts," which have open roofs and dark glass panels to the Design Review Board members Monday afternoon.
The structures will be placed at 401 10th Ave. S., 702 10th Ave. S.,
1411 10th Ave. S., 3800 10th Ave. S., 501 Northwest Bypass and at the
Lucky Lil's liquor store and casino on Fox Farm Road. ...
Clean Indoor Air Act 'public health success story'
After six months of living with the Montana Clean Indoor Air Act, state public health officials are calling full implementation of the smokefree law a public health success story.
We know from extensive studies conducted in the U.S. and other countries that because of Montanans smokefree law, Montana residents will be experiencing fewer heart attacks, says Anna Whiting Sorrell, director of the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services. And down the road, fewer Montanans will develop lung cancer and coronary heart disease and other costly diseases will decline.
The 2005 Montana Legislature passed the Clean Indoor Air Act but allowed bars and casinos a four-year exception. Those exceptions expired Oct. 1, 2009, and full implementation of the law began.
Linda Lee, section supervisor for the Montana Tobacco Use Prevention Program (MTUPP), said compliance with the act among Montana bars and other businesses has been successful.
MTUPP has received complaints for less than one percent of Montanas
2,800 bars, Lee says. We can safely state that compliance
among Montana licensed liquor establishments and other businesses is
extremely high. ...
revenue falls with cig ban
HELENA State video gambling tax receipts plummeted by nearly 18 percent in the last quarter of 2009, buffeted by the beginning of a statewide indoor smoking on bars and casinos and a recession that hit Montana hard.
The gross video gambling-machine taxes will be about $12.5 million for the quarter that ran from October through December 2009, said Rick Ask, administrator of the Gambling Control Division in the state Justice Department. Thats about $2.7 million, or 17.8 percent, less than what the tax revenues were the previous three months, from July through September 2009.
The quarterly gambling-machine taxes are down by 16.8 percent, or $2.5 million, compared with the previous three-month period from September through December 2008, Ask said.
Gambling-machine taxes are calculated by taking the money paid into the machines as bets and subtracting the winnings. The difference is multiplied by 15 percent to yield the taxes.
The revenue drop came as no surprise to industry officials, who were braced for the drop when the states 2005 indoor smoking ban took effect for casinos and taverns Oct. 1. The effective date of the law had been delayed by four years to give bars and casinos time to prepare. ...
push at Montana State University stalled, but not dead
Other Montana universities are moving to ban cigarettes and chewing tobacco from their campuses, but at Montana State University the proposed tobacco-free policy is stalled.
"It's really come down to a debate between public health and personal rights," said Jenny Haubenreiser, of the MSU Student Health Service's health promotions office.
She and other tobacco-free advocates went to MSU's elected student
leaders last fall, hoping they would embrace the idea and take the initiative.
Falls repeals smoking ordinance
invited to discuss smoking issue
One of the hotter City Commission meetings of the year may take place on a cold Tuesday night in Great Falls.
Health advocates and people with lung diseases are expected to square off against casino and tavern owners, and a relatively new minority that is feeling oppressed smokers.City Manager Greg Doyon predicted the subject matter will attract an ample crowd at the commission's regular 7 p.m. meeting Tuesday in the Civic Center Commission Chambers. During that meeting city commissioners will hold a public hearing on whether to repeal a city ordinance prohibiting smoking within 20 feet of a door, window or air vent. ...
A recent survey conducted by students and Montana State University Billings shows the smoking ban may have a slightly positive affect on Montana's economy.
Students called about 400 Montana residents at random. Results show about 20% of residents plan to go out more often since the smoking ban, while only about 10% plan to go out less often. MSU-B economist Scott Rickard said the people who said they'd go out more are in a higher income bracket.
"Net affect, it would appear that the smoking ban, at least based on these results, should have a small positive affect on revenues to these types of establishments," Rickard said. ...
County Buildings Follow City Smoking Rules
Over the past few days we've been telling you about battle going on between area bars and the city of Great Falls.
The local Tavern Association says the city should repeal its 20 foot ordinance in light of the statewide smoking ban, and questioned if the ordinance could be enforced on grounds of county buildings.
The ordinance prohibits smoking within 20 feet of all doors, windows and air vents, and the setup at the Cascade County courthouse appears to be in compliance.
"We are not exempt from the city ordinance, said County
Commissioner Peggy Beltrone. We are following it and we are advising
our employees to follow it as well." ...
ask city commission to repeal 20-foot outdoor smoking rule
Representatives from the Cascade County Tavern Association and the Montana Coin Machine Operators asked the Great Falls City Commission on Tuesday night to repeal the city ordinance that bans smoking within 20 feet of an entrance.
The ordinance applies an arbitrary number that doesn't work in every situation, said Ronda Wiggers, with Montana Coin Machine Operators.
She gave the example that someone wanting to smoke on Central Avenue would have a hard time finding a spot that was 20 feet away from a door or window. ...
Falls residents complain smoking ban isn't enforced
That's prompted the Great Falls City Commission at a meeting Tuesday
to again take up an issue many had thought resolved last month. ...
to ban tobacco products on campus starting in fall 2011
The University of Montana is poised to join a growing roster of colleges nationwide banning tobacco on campus.
The ban is set to go into effect in the fall of 2011, and would be the second campuswide smoking ban in Montana - as Montana Tech in Butte is going tobacco-free in 2010.
Montana State University has proposed a similar ban.
Across the country, more and more colleges are banning not just smoking, but the use of all tobacco products anywhere on campus. There are now 172 tobacco-free campuses nationwide, and another 322 smoke-free campuses.
UM and other Montana campuses currently have a 25-foot smoking perimeter around building entrances. But a study by the UM Tobacco Task Force found that nearly two-thirds of smokers were violating that regulation. ...
revenues are down one month after smoking ban
It's been about a month since the Montana Clear Indoor Act took effect in bars, casinos and restaurants across the Treasure State. According to a Billings gaming distributor, gambling revenues are down 16% to 18% across the state.
On October 1st, the Reno Club in Billings joined hundreds of others businesses in going smoke-free. Now that the smoke has cleared, businesses are taking a hard look at the bottom line.
"My gambling is down about 20% and that could be recession, it could be the weather, it could be just about anything," Reno Club owner John Blair said. ...
Montanas Smoking Ban Doesnt Apply to Tribal Venues
RONAN - Enforcement of Montana's Clean Air Act appears to be a little hazy on Indian reservations.
Tribally owned casinos are exempt from the indoor-smoking ban, while some enrolled tribal members who own reservation bars and casinos aren't enforcing the ban.
In the meantime, Rick and Vicki Wheeler, who are not members of the Confederate Salish and Kootenai Tribes, recently received their first letter of complaint from the Lake County Health Department for not enforcing the smoking ban at their Ronan business, The Club, which is within the Flathead Indian Reservation.
"Ninety percent of my customers smoke," said Rick Weaver, who has owned The Club for 20 years. "This bar is my retirement -- do they want to take that away from me, too? It's racial discrimination."
Diana Schwab, the tobacco prevention coordinator in Lake County, agrees the law raises different issues on the state's reservations. ...
casino smoking policy comes at a cost
It's a niche market created by the last segment of Montana's Clean Indoor Air Act originally put in place four years ago. Across the state smoking is now prohibited in all indoor public places, including bars and casinos that had, up until Oct. 1, an exemption if they did not allow anyone younger than 18 to enter their establishments.So it's not surprising that some businesses on the state's Indian Reservations, which are not subject to the Montana Clean Indoor Air Act, are now marketing to people who like to have a cigarette with their cup of coffee, meal or adult beverage or while gambling indoors.
That's how the free market works. Entre- preneurs fill unmet demands. Reservation-based businesses are capitalizing on their advantage customers can smoke inside at their places, while everywhere else in the state those customers have to step outside.
But unlike other advantages reservation-based casinos have capitalized on namely technology boosted bingo games that offer slot-machine like experiences with possible payouts far in excess of Montana's $800 limit on video gaming machines allowing patrons to continue to smoke inside stinks.
There's no denying that many hope the Montana Clean Indoor Act will prompt some to kick the tobacco habit. But the real force behind the measure is to give employees everywhere a healthier work environment. Secondhand smoke is a health hazard. Science has proven it.
So while nonsmoking patrons can choose to spend their dollars in smoke-free
establishments, employees who work somewhere that allows smoking don't
have the same choice. ...
logs 7 complaints for smoking ban violations
BILLINGS Montana health officials say they have logged seven complaints about businesses allegedly violating a state-wide smoking ban ...
A breath of fresh air, inside & out
It's pretty clear that the ban enjoys broad approval. According to the state health department report, roughly 75 percent of Montanans support the smoking law.
The ban could financially hurt bars and casinos. But it's also possible that more Montanans will be more inclined to patronize smoke-free establishments, easing the pain.
Montana is state blessed with lots of elbow room. And many of us embrace that fact, both physically and psychologically, by exercising our right to live the way we choose (within the law, of course) and freely sharing what's on our minds. We also live in a state the places great value on common sense.
With the smoking ban, Montana has found a healthy balance between individual liberty and the common good. For that, and crisp, clear autumn days, we should be thankful. ...
snuffed out at bars, casinos
On Thursday, many Montana bars and casinos will be different places.
owner hopes smoking ban will boost business
Matters: Smoking ban goes in effect across Montana on Thursday
Sabbath held in Montana
Over 60 Montana Faith Communities showed their support for the Montana Clean Indoor Air Act over the weekend.
Churches all across the state celebrated the second annual Smokefree Sabbath to unite places of worship in support of clean air in Montana.
Beginning on October 1st, the law will take affect and all enclosed public places and workplaces must be smoke free. ...
change in the air as smoking ban nears
On Oct. 1, Montana's Clean Indoor Air Act's final phase kicks in, making it illegal to smoke inside public places.
At that point, casinos, bars and taverns that currently can let patrons smoke because minors are not allowed, will be forced to tell smokers to go outside.
If they don't, the business could face a misdemeanor charge and fines from $100 to $500.
"I'll probably just go home on my lunch hour instead," Nolevanko said. "I think the casinos are going to lose money because of this."
It's a belief shared by many owners of casinos and bars, said John Hayes, executive director of the Cascade County Tavern Association.
owners struggle to please smokers, comply with new law
When the owners of the Prospector Casino went to the city's Design Review board in April to present plans to freshen up the exterior of the 616 10th Ave. S. business, Dick Barnes mentioned he also was looking at putting up an outside shelter for his customers who smoke.
On Oct. 1, his business, along with other bars, casinos and taverns in Montana that have been allowed to let customers enjoy cigarettes, will have to ask them to step outside.
Montana's Clean Indoor Air Act, which went into effect in October 2005, bans tobacco smoke from enclosed public places, including restaurants, stores, public and private offices, public transportation, schools, health care facilities, colleges, etc.
Bars and casinos could allow customers to smoke indoors, as long as they didn't allow anyone under 18 in the area.
That ends Oct. 1.
The restaurant, lounge and casino Barnes and his wife, Nancy, own has many patrons who smoke. Barnes looked at some prebuilt outside smoking shelters available through a local distributor with price tags of $9,000 on up. ...
smoking bars plan outdoor areas for puffing patrons after Oct. 1
Smokers are likely anxious this month, as their habit nears the full, official state stamp of disapproval on Oct 1.
But the Camels actually won't have to stay at home for a night on the town, as numerous taverns in Missoula have prepared for the day when the full weight of the Montana Clean Indoor Air Act takes effect.
Bar and beer joints intent on serving smokers have built - or have plans to build - special smoking areas, ranging from a couple of chairs and tables out back to a full-fledged smoking room, with enough open space to get around the law's definition of "enclosed space."
The latter belongs to Boomer's Pub, a popular sports bar on Brooks
Street which has a new, sequestered smoking wing with separate seating
and heat lamps for the cold months.
goes smoke-free ahead of October deadline
The deadline for all Montana bars and casinos to officially go smoke-free is coming up on October 1st, but some businesses aren't waiting.
VFW Post 1087 on 10th Avenue South went smoke-free last month, after talking about it for nearly a year. They finally decided to make the change a couple weeks ago.
Some members said they wouldn't come if it went smoke-free, but the VFW says most have kept coming. In fact, other members who stopped coming because of the smoke have now returned.
The post feels that going smoke-free was the right decision. ...
hospital goes smokefree
HELENA - St. Peter's Hospital in Helena has joined other hospitals
in the state in banning tobacco use. The ban went into effect Tuesday.
Tech to ban tobacco on campus | kxnet.com North Dakota News
helps prepare bars for going smoke-free
drops smoking-ban exemption proposal
Calling the bill dead on arrival, Sen. Jerry Black, R-Shelby, said Monday he has dropped plans to sponsor legislation to permanently exempt some 1,400 Montana bars and casinos from a statewide smoking ban effective Oct. 1.
Black said he has put a hold on the bill.
I do not intend to purse it in any way, he said, although I do agree with my requester of the bill that it is a property rights issue, and customers should have a choice of going to a smoking or a non-smoking establishment.
But people are overwhelmingly supportive of the Indoor Clean
Air Act. So there is no sense in pursuing a bill that has no chance
should do nothing to roll back smoking ban
Nowhere was that more evident than here in Marlboro Country, where the 2005 Legislature passed the Clean Indoor Air Act. It imposed the smoking ban in most public places on Oct. 1 that year, but it phased in the rest, giving bars and casinos four more years to prepare for a total ban.
At the time, Oct .1, 2009, seemed a long way off. But a funny thing about time: It passes. Now it's less than a year and one legislative session away.
It should be no surprise, then, that lawmakers in January may be asked to roll back the ban...
targets smoking ban
Sen. Jerry Black, R-Shelby, is having a bill drafted to permanently exempt some 1,400 bars and casinos from a statewide smoking ban set to apply to these establishments Oct. 1, 2009.
His proposal would apply to only those bars and businesses that sought
an exemption by June 30 from the Montana Clean Indoor Air Act.
Several business people, including one tavern owner, asked Black to submit the bill draft. Black said he isn't sure yet if he will actually introduce the bill and conceded it probably has "mixed to nil" chances of passing.
looms for smoking indoors
study well vindicated
It has been more than half a decade since Helena physicians Richard Sargent and Robert Shepard published their study on the startlingly high impact of second-hand smoke on the incidence of heart attacks a study widely considered at the time to be too good to be true.
Since then, however, Sargent and Shepard have been vindicated by much larger follow-up studies around the world.
The doctors took advantage of a short-lived indoor smoking ban in Helena to study the number of heart attacks treated here while the ban was in effect as compared to prior incidences before the ban. The difference was a staggering 38 percent.
Subsequent scientific studies of the impact of smoking prohibitions in the workplace and all public buildings in New York State, the whole of Ireland, Rome, and elsewhere found an average decrease of about 19 percent, still a huge (and hugely life-saving) improvement.
But how can such a large impact be possible?
Dr. Suzaynn Schick, a professor of medicine at the division of Occupational
and Environmental Medicine at the University of California-San Francisco,
was in Helena last week to take part in the third annual Montana Tobacco
Policy Summit at Carroll College. According to Dr. Schick, who also
visited the IR Editorial Board last week, recent research has found
that chemicals in second-hand smoke quickly attack the lining of arteries,
leading to a buildup of plaque that restricts blood flow, increases
blood pressure, and can cause heart attacks.
Farewell, Marlboro Man
I'm a sucker for the cowboy. My bookshelves sag under the weight of Cormac McCarthy and Larry McMurtry novels. . . .
But even I was surprised when the 2005 Montana Legislature drew its six-shooter and plugged two great icons of the mythical West: the smoky old saloon and the beer can tossed in the ditch. . . .
The Cowboy Way has a libertarian streak as wide as I-90. After all, Montana is the state that for more than a year had no numeric speed limit. We could drive as fast as we wanted, as long as it was "reasonable and prudent." Montana eventually imposed a 75 mph speed limit, but only because the feds threatened to withhold millions in federal highway funds that keep our interstates from reverting back to buffalo trails.
Freedom is still a high card in the political poker hand. But a new card is in the deck: Responsibility.
Gambling establishments have until 2009 to comply with the law, which was the result of a compromise between tavern and gaming interests and several regional and national health groups
Bronson Frick, associate director of Americans for Nonsmokers' Rights in Berkeley, Calif., said Montana is among several states that are considering smoke-free laws this spring, including Georgia and North Dakota.
"Montana has been a leader in public tobacco issues for a number of years now, with the activity in Helena and the heart attack study that came out of Helena," he said.
Not everyone is happy with the compromise. While the bill had the support of the American Heart Association and the American Lung Association, the American Cancer Society didn't lend its backing, because the bill prevents cities from enacting stronger laws during the four-year sunset period for casinos.
Frick said that clause gave his group pause as well.
"We are concerned about that provision because the tobacco companies prefer to fight at the state level and we believe local communities should be allowed to make their own choices," he said.
State law doesn't prohibit local smoking ban