Kearns and Sons RS Aesthetics

County tobacco-free campus not an option, says judge


By Michael Howell

The County Commissioners have decided to drop consideration of a policy making all county-owned property tobacco-free after receiving a letter from District Court Judge Jeffrey Langton. After reading a newspaper article about the proposed policy, Langton wrote to the commissioners, stating that “smoking and other tobacco use outside county administrative and courthouse buildings on county property is a legally protected activity and the Commission has no lawful authority to ban outdoor smoking in those areas under existing Montana law.”

The commissioners heard a proposal for establishing a tobacco-free policy that would prohibit all forms of tobacco products and the use of those products, including e-cigarettes and chewing tobacco, on the grounds or in any of the buildings owned by the County from Tobacco Free Ravalli County coordinator Lindsay Stover in early August. They agreed to consider the matter and asked Stover to help prepare a draft policy.

Langton wrote to the commissioners on August 13, reminding them of their “earlier misguided attempt in 2006 to ban smoking within 25 feet of county buildings, which the commissioners ultimately retracted.”

Langton said that he pointed out at the time that the Montana Clean Indoor Air Act only prohibits smoking in an “enclosed public place.” The term is defined as “an indoor area, room, or vehicle that the general public is allowed to enter or that serves as a place of work….”

In his letter, Langton went on to note that in a comment to the Department of Public Health and Human Services regarding the adoption of administrative rules to administer the 
Act, a commenter stated that a new rule should clarify whether or not smoking outdoors near a workplace is prohibited.

He quotes the Director of the Department, stating: “The statute prohibits indoor smoking and does not address outdoor smoking. Therefore, the department has no authority to prescribe by rule anything about outdoor smoking.”

Neither does the County, according to Langton.

“I am certain you are fully aware that Ravalli County voters have rejected the assumption of self government powers and therefore Ravalli County, as a traditional county government, only has those legislative, administrative and other powers specified or necessarily implied from those expressed in state law,” wrote Langton.

He concludes that, “no case can be made that the law necessarily implies a ban on outdoor smoking… any ordinance to the contrary would be illegal and unenforceable.”

Jeff Burrows, Chairman of the Board of Commissioners, said that the Commission had dropped consideration of the matter after receiving Langton’s letter.

3 Responses to County tobacco-free campus not an option, says judge
  1. John Davidson
    September 6, 2013 | 2:14 am

    Colleges being forced to go smokefree by Obama Administration

    The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced an initiative to ban smoking from college campuses last month. This is part of the HHS goal to create a society free of tobacco-related disease and death, according to their action plan released by the HHS in 2010.

    Colleges who fail to enact campus-wide smoking bans and other tobacco-free policies may soon face the loss of grants and contracts from the HHS, according to the plan. Western receives grants through a subdivision of the HHS called the National Institutes of Health, Acting Vice Provost for Research Kathleen Kitto said.

    Obama administration to push for eliminating smoking on college campuses

    Read more: … z29zJ2V2TV

    President Barack Obama has already promised not to smoke cigarettes in the White House. If his administration has its way, American college students will soon be required to follow suit while they’re on campus.

    Howard Koh, assistant secretary for health at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, will announce a national initiative Wednesday at the University of Michigan School of Public Health to stamp out tobacco use on college campuses.

  2. syko4MT
    September 4, 2013 | 10:31 pm

    It’s about time someone spoke some sense.

    You WILL NOT get cancer just by walking by somebody that smokes! You may not like it, but I guarantee there are things about anyone that someone else doesn’t like.

    I vote “YES”… kick that Nanny-state mentality out of Montana.

    • John Davidson
      September 6, 2013 | 2:15 am

      7 October, the COT meeting on 26 October and the COC meeting on 18
      November 2004.

      “5. The Committees commented that tobacco smoke was a highly complex chemical mixture and that the causative agents for smoke induced diseases (such as cardiovascular disease, cancer, effects on reproduction and on offspring) was unknown. The mechanisms by which tobacco induced adverse effects were not established. The best information related to tobacco smoke – induced lung cancer, but even in this instance a detailed mechanism was not available. The Committees therefore agreed that on the basis of current knowledge it would be very difficult to identify a toxicological testing strategy or a biomonitoring approach for use in volunteer studies with smokers where the end-points determined or biomarkers measured were predictive of the overall burden of tobacco-induced adverse disease.”

      In other words … our first hand smoke theory is so lame we can’t even design a bogus lab experiment to prove it. In fact … we don’t even know how tobacco does all of the magical things we claim it does.

      The greatest threat to the second hand theory is the weakness of the first hand theory.

Leave a Reply

Wanting to leave an <em>phasis on your comment?