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Smoke Free News for June 2016

In this issue:

Rice County Fair Board Values Health, Passes Tobacco-Free Policy for Fairgrounds
At their meeting in May, the Rice County Fair Board passed a tobacco-free policy for the fairgrounds. The stated purpose of the policy is “to protect the health, safety and welfare of visitors, vendors and employees.” The new policy prohibits the sale and use of tobacco (in any form) and electronic cigarettes at all times anywhere on the fairgrounds. The policy took effect as soon as it was passed.

During the week of the Rice County Fair, there will be five designated outdoor areas where tobacco and electronic cigarette use will be permitted:

  • Beer garden patio
  • Grandstand - East and West patios
  • Infield
  • Camping areas
  • Parking areas (excluding disability/accessible parking)

All other parts of the fairgrounds will be tobacco-free.

Anyone found violating the tobaco-free policy will be asked to comply or they may face immediate removal from the fairgrounds. Violations by independent contractors (or their staff) may affect their ability to participate in future events on fairgrounds property.

Rice County Public Health Partners with Fair Board on Tobacco-Free Fairgrounds Policy
A survey taken during the 2015 Rice County Fair found that 82% wanted a tobacco-free policy for the fair. Tracy Ackman-Shaw of Rice County Public Health shared the results of this survey with the Rice County Fair Board at their meeting in February. The reaction from the Board members was very positive. They had many questions and there was lots of discussion about policy options.
The Fair Board had never had any formal written policies before. A subcommittee was formed and Tracy was asked to participate and lead them through the process of developing a written policy. The subcommittee met in March. They reviewed smoking and tobacco use policies from other county fairs. The subcommittee liked the policy from the Traverse County Fair and decided to use it as a model.
Tracy reached out to staff at the Public Health Law Center at Mitchell Hamline School of Law to tap into their expert knowledge of effective policy language. A draft of the Rice County Fair policy was completed and the subcommittee approved sending it to the full Fair Board for a vote at their May meeting. The policy took effect on May 17, 2016. Tracy continues to work with the Fair Board and staff to help them to implement the new policy.




“Lunch and Learn” Workshops Still Popular with Landlords

The Four Corners Partnership has been hosting workshops for area landlords for several years. These one-hour workshops give the landlords information and answer their questions about smoke-free policies for their multi-unit rental housing. They are called “Lunch and Learns” because we give the landlords lunch while they participate in the workshop.
The most recent workshop was held in Owatonna on April 28th at the Timber Lodge Steakhouse. A total of 14 property managers and owners; with rental properties in Dodge, Goodhue, Rice and Steele counties attended. The guest speakers, both from St. Paul, were:

  • Kara Skahen, director, Live Smoke Free program
  • Darlene Huang, staff attorney, Public Health Law Center at Mitchell Hamline School of Law.
Darlene explained some of the legal issues involved with implementing a smoke-free policy and also the potential legal risk from not having a smoke-free policy. She assured the landlords that there is no “right to smoke” anywhere in federal or state laws and regulations.
Kara explained how tobacco smoke infiltrates between the living units in multi-unit rental buildings. She summarized the ways that secondhand tobacco smoke harms the health of adults and children.  She also explained how tobaccosmoke causes damage to rental units and shared the results from a study of the added costs to clean and repair units where residents have smoked indoors.

The landlords really seemed to value this experience and asked lots of good questions. Staff from the Four Corners Partnership are available in each of our four counties to work one-on-one with landlords to help them implement a smoke-free policy for their buildings.

Smoke-Free Housing Staff


Office Phone

Alicia Schumacher

Dodge County Public Health

(507) 635-6157

Tom Wolff

Goodhue County Health & Human Services

(651) 385-6142

Tracy Ackman-Shaw

Rice County Public Health

(507) 332-5921

Jane Nyquist

Steele County Public Health

(507) 444-7661

Four Corners Partnership smoke-free housing work is made possible by a grant from the Tobacco-Free Communities Program of the Minnesota Department of Health.



Day At the Capitol 2016
On May 3rd, the Four Corners Partnership participated in Minnesotans for a Smoke-Free Generations’ Day at The Capitol. Minnesotans for a Smoke-Free Generation is a newly formed coalition of health partners from around the state who share a common goal. They want to save Minnesota youth from a lifetime of addiction to tobacco.

Dodge and Rice county advocates with Senator Senjem.

Our four counties brought a total of 25 public health and youth tobacco control advocates. We started the day at the History Center, with various speakers, including Senator Kathy Sheran who was the chief author of the Freedom to Breathe Act in 2007. After lunch, we made our way to our lobbying visits with our elected officials. We were able to meet with Senator Schmit, Sen. Jensen, and Sen. Senjem along with Representative Petersburg and Rep Daniels. This year’s priorities were:

  1. Keep the price of tobacco high
  2. Restrict the sale of menthol cigarettes and flavored tobacco products
  3. Raise the age to purchase tobacco to 21
  4. Fund tobacco prevention efforts

Steele County advocates with Senator Jensen.

Goodhue County advocates with Senator Schmidt.

The youth and adult advocates did a great job educating about the need for the four priorities. A road bump we hit was the tax breaks on tobacco products. The Tax Committee included big tax breaks for the tobacco industry in their tax bill. On June 6th, Governor Dayton vetoed the tax bill which included over $32 million in tax breaks for the tobacco industry choosing kids over Big Tobacco. High cigarette prices are the most effective way to prevent youth from starting to smoke, saving them from a lifetime of addiction to tobacco. Since the 2013 tobacco tax increase, Minnesota youth and adult smoking rates have fallen to an all-time low.

Day At the Capitol is a great way for our voices to be heard. Three Senators and two Representatives were able to hear from their constituents on the tobacco issues that we are concerned about. We are looking forward for the next Day At the Capitol in 2017.







Smoke-Free News Archives

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November 2015 - read newsletter


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