Friday, July 31, 2009

News Release: Talbott Street and Gregs are going smoke free

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – More and more businesses in Indianapolis are not waiting on the City-County Council to protect all workers from secondhand smoke. Talbott Street and Gregs, two of the most popular LGBT bars in Indianapolis, are going smoke free this Saturday, August 1st.

Tobacco is a major issue in the LGBT community. LGBT adults and youth have roughly 40 percent to 70 percent higher smoking rates than the general population; and bartenders and servers in LGBT oriented nightclubs are disproportionately exposed to secondhand smoke.

To Michael Strapulos, Talbott Street’s owner, health was a major factor in his decision.

“I want to provide a safe, clean, and healthy environment for my Talbott Sreet family and our guests,” Strapulos said.

According to Gregs’ owner, Phil Denton, the idea to go smoke free was brought up by his employees who repeatedly came across customers’ complaints about the cigarette smoke. He decided to survey his customers to get feedback on making the bar smoke free.

“There were a lot of positive comments, not mentioning the countless thank you emails,” Denton said. “It’s an important decision and we are all very excited.”

Gregs’ survey showed that 73 percent of the respondents answered “yes” to the question: “Should Gregs be smoke free?” and the great majority said they would frequent the bar more or as often if it was smoke free.

In fact results from a recent public opinion poll of Marion County residents conducted by the Survey Research Center at IUPUI show similar results. Over two thirds (69.5 percent) of adults in Marion County would support an ordinance in Indianapolis prohibiting smoking in all workplaces including restaurants, bars, and bowling alleys.

Indianapolis’ current smoke free ordinance, which went into effect in March 1, 2006, prohibits smoking in public workplaces and places of employment with some exceptions. Workplaces not covered by the law include bars or taverns that do not allow anyone under 18, bowling alleys, and private clubs with liquor licenses.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Indy Star Column: Smoking Prevention takes big new hit in budget

Thanks to Matthew Tully of the Indianapolis Star for another great column:

Smoking prevention takes big hit in new budget

By definition, bottom-line budget decisions are usually regrettable. That's because they're often made with short-term goals in mind, regardless of long-term consequences.

Gov. Mitch Daniels and Indiana lawmakers made one such decision in the closing days of this year's legislative session: They took a whack out of the state's well-respected but perpetually underfunded anti-smoking program. The decision to slash spending on the Indiana Tobacco Prevention and Cessation program was not surprising; plenty of other programs took hits this year. But the size of the cut -- roughly 33 percent -- stunned many working hard to reduce the state's smoking rate.

"It's a drop in the bucket compared to the rest of the state budget," Aaron Doeppers, Midwest director for the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids, said of the $5.35 million cut. "But it's a huge amount of money for tobacco prevention.

"I don't understand it."

How could he?

The state in recent years has actually taken a number of steps suggesting it was finally getting serious about anti-smoking efforts. The governor pushed through a major cigarette tax increase in 2007, many local communities have adopted no-smoking ordinances, and a new report shows a significant drop in the rate of smoking by Indiana youths.

Meanwhile, Daniels and lawmakers had been in agreement earlier in the year: The anti-smoking program's spending, which comes mainly from the 1998 tobacco settlement, would be cut by about 10 percent -- from $16.2 million to $14.5 million. That cut was big, but still similar to those other programs faced.

"We understood," Doeppers said. "You have to take your lumps and say, 'We're willing to go along with this just like everybody else.' "

As lawmakers moved into a special session, though, the anti-smoking program took a uniquely large hit -- down to $10.85 million. While that is the same amount the state spent on anti-smoking programs in 2007, it is a drop from the past two years and woefully short of the $32 million the program received in its earliest years. The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, by the way, recommends Indiana spend more than $30 million on the program.

Facing cuts, the Indiana Tobacco Prevention and Cessation (ITPC) board will gather Thursday to craft a vastly scaled-down spending plan. The impact will be felt by those struggling to give up their cigarettes, and those trying to help them. Spending on the state's successful Tobacco Quitline -- (800) 784-8669 -- will take a bruising. Meanwhile, much-needed grants for local groups throughout the state, many of which finance campaigns aimed at children, will be hit hard.

Karla Sneegas, ITPC's executive director, said the cuts to the Quitline will be particularly painful. With a recent increase in the federal cigarette tax, the line has seen a four-fold increase in the number of calls from wannabe quitters. The hotline will continue, she said, but her group will not be able to advertise it.

Because of that, "there won't be nearly as many smokers that will find out about it," Sneegas said.

State Health Commissioner Dr. Judy Monroe, who has been a strong supporter of efforts to reduce smoking, hopes recent steps taken by the federal government will blunt the impact of the state spending cuts.

Let's hope she's right.

But why take a chance on losing momentum? With more and more smokers trying to quit because of tax increases, and in the wake of news that youth smoking rates are improving, this would be a perfect time to beef up anti-smoking programs.

Regrettably, Indiana is heading in the opposite direction.

Monday, July 13, 2009

New Surgeon General of the United States

Alabama Physician Chosen as Surgeon General

By Gardiner Harris

Bill Starling/The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, via Associated Press Dr. Regina Benjamin

President Barack Obama has selected Dr. Regina Benjamin, an Alabama family physician, as the U.S. surgeon general, two administration officials said on Monday.

Mr. Obama will announce his selection officially at a Rose Garden ceremony at 11:40 a.m.

An African-American, Dr. Benjamin is nationally known for establishing a rural health clinic in Bayou La Batre, Ala. — a small shrimping village along the Gulf Coast. Hurricana Katrina destroyed the clinic in 2005, and then when it was rebuilt, the clinic burned down on the eve of re-opening.

In 2002, she became the president of the Alabama Medical Association, making her the first African-American woman to be president of a state medical society in the United States. In September, she was one of 25 recipients of the $500,000 “genius awards,” awarded by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.

She completed her residency in family medicine at the Medical Center of Central Georgia. She is a graduate of Xavier University, Morehouse School of Medicine and the University of Alabama School of Medicine.

The titular head of the U.S. Public Health Service, the surgeon general is a largely ceremonial post used by numerous administrations to communicate important health messages to the public. The office itself has only a handful of staff and must rely for research and support on the National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

But the uniform of the surgeon general invests its wearer with credibility in the public’s eyes and has often led the wearer to distance themselves from the political priorities of the administration.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Save The Date: Baseball, Burgers and Business Cards

Are you a young professional in Indianapolis? Then come check out Young Professionals Unite '09, a night of baseball, burgers and business cards. An awesome opportunity to network other community minded young pro's in Indianapolis. Get your tickets now as there are a limited amount! Oh yeah, Victory Field is smoke free!


Where: Victory Field
Date: August 6th, 2009
Time: Unlimited networking, food and beer from 5:30-7:00pm. Game starts at 7pm.
Ticket Includes: Unlimited food and beer (until 7pm), networking event, door prizes, ticket to game. First 200 tickets going for $20-after that $25
Click Here to order your tickets!

Please submit all questions to

Again, space is limited and all tickets must be purchased by July 17th.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Indianapolis Business Journal: Clean Air Strategy

Check out the story below that ran in the Indianapolis Business Journal regarding establishments going "smoke free" on their own.

In order for a place to be smoke free, it needs to be smoke free 100% of the time. Not just during lunch, or before 10pm.