Birthday party for Smoke Free New Mexico - what a celebration!

City: Albuquerque    Hosted By: New Mexicans Concerned About Tobacco
Smoke-free New Mexico is now officially one year old! On Friday, June 13th, 2008, an enthusiastic group of tobacco control advocates arrived at the Marriott Pyramid to celebrate this event. Those who worked to pass the Dee Johnson Clean Indoor Air Act, people who are especially happy about the new law like servers, musicians, and others who formerly worked in very smoky places, Representative Al Park who sponsored the clean indoor air act and tobacco prevention advocates from across the state enjoyed the day together.

"Support for this bill sometimes came from unexpected places," recounted Representative Al Park. He told of approaching another lawmaker at the Roundhouse to ask for his vote for the bill during the 2007 session. The legislator immediately said, "I'm there." Representative Park was surprised, as he had expected this man to oppose the bill. The other lawmaker explained that his young daughter had severe asthma, and that he and his wife were "tired of eating at home." They fully understood the freedom they would experience after the Clean Indoor Air Act went into effect.

"We have nothing but good news today," announced Jane Corinne, Director of New Mexicans Concerned About Tobacco. "Not only the people in this room, but the large majority of New Mexicans, know about the Dee Johnson Clean Indoor Air Act, support the law, and have been positively impacted by the law." She explained that only four of every 100 people who work outside the home said they were being exposed to secondhand smoke at work. This information came from a statewide survey last November, only five months after the new law went into effect.

People interested in the New Mexico economy can be happy about the clean indoor air law too. Nathan Bush, Government Relations Director for the American Cancer Society and Chair of New Mexicans Concerned About Tobacco, announced that during the last half of 2007, after the Dee Johnson Clean Indoor Air Act was implemented, hospitality industry gross receipts increased by 9.48% over the same time period in 2006. The state's economy increased by only 4.14% in all business sectors for that period of time. "New Mexico's revenue increases track with what we have seen in other states that have enacted such laws," stated Bush. "Communities that enacted local ordinances prior to the statewide law clearly showed that bars and restaurants continued to prosper. These statewide data show that trend continuing."

Following the press conference where this good news was conveyed to reporters from three television channels, guests at the celebration enjoyed a terrific lunch buffet. They were then treated to a blues performance by three members of Musicians for a Smoke-Free Stage, Chris Dracup, Tommy Elske and Ron Lipton. These performers expressed their gratitude for the new law, saying that they were very relieved to be able to perform in bars and not have to come home, "smelling like smoke after breathing in cigarette smoke for so many hours." Appreciation like theirs is being voiced around the state as we begin year two of Smoke-Free New Mexico.