tocacco plant Native American Tobaccoo flower, leaves, and buds

tocacco Tobacco is an annual or bi-annual growing 1-3 meters tall with large sticky leaves that contain nicotine. Native to the Americas, tobacco has a long history of use as a shamanic inebriant and stimulant. It is extremely popular and well-known for its addictive potential.

tocacco nicotina Nicotiana tabacum

tocacco Nicotiana rustica leaves. Nicotiana rustica leaves have a nicotine content as high as 9%, whereas Nicotiana tabacum (common tobacco) leaves contain about 1 to 3%

tocacco cigar A cigar is a tightly rolled bundle of dried and fermented tobacco which is ignited so that its smoke may be drawn into the mouth. Cigar tobacco is grown in significant quantities in Brazil, Cameroon, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Honduras, Indonesia, Mexico, Nicaragua, Sumatra, Philippines, and the Eastern United States.

tocacco Tobacco is an agricultural product processed from the fresh leaves of plants in the genus Nicotiana. It can be consumed, used as an organic pesticide, and in the form of nicotine tartrate it is used in some medicines. In consumption it may be in the form of cigarettes smoking, snuffing, chewing, dipping tobacco, or snus.

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Cover Story: Bars among target of smoking-ban effort

At Wally’s bar and liquor store in Orlando, the Happy Hour specials flowed and cigarette smoke wafted while Hank Williams played on smoking in barthe jukebox.

“Drinking and smoking go hand-in-hand,” said bar owner Martin Snellgrove.

Restaurateur Carmen Jordan agreed.

“It wouldn’t be Happy Hour at a sports bar without cigarettes and beer,” said Jordan, said Jordan, who added an outdoor patio for smokers at his bar-and-grill and opened a bar solely for his smoking customers after a statewide smoking ban went into effect in 1993.

Now, a new study by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that a growing number of states are allowing local communities to pass smoke-free laws that are stricter than state law. If that trend continues, Florida may soon join other states where smoking is outlawed in all public places and businesses – including bars.

“It would kill off the bar business. End of story,” predicted Jordan.

Currently, Florida is among 12 states that still have laws in place that block communities from passing more stringent smoke-free laws than state statutes. This practice is known as preemption. The CDC study found that from 2004 to 2009, the number of states with provisions preempting local smoke-free restrictions in at least one of three settings – government and private worksites, and restaurants – decreased from 19 to 12.

Meanwhile, the number of states with preemptive provisions in their smoke-free laws for all settings decreased from 15 to 8.

“The tide is turning toward allowing smoke-free legislation at the local level,” said Nikole Souder-Schale, southeastern regional vice president for advocacy for the American Heart Association. “You have more local elected officials who are interested in having stronger smoke-free laws for their communities.”

Boosted by the CDC’s report and the federal agency’s Healthy People 2010 objective to eliminate state laws that preempt stronger local tobacco control laws, Souder-Schale’s organization along with other national groups including the American Cancer Society and the American Lung Association are pushing to make Florida virtually smoke-free.

“Policies that completely eliminate smoking in indoor workplaces and public places result in health benefits, including preventing heart attacks,” the CDC study showed.

Souder-Schale said she and other smoke-free advocacy groups have approached state lawmakers about sponsoring a preemption bill. But they have been met with resistance.

“The legislature does not have the will to remove preemption,” said Brenda Olson, chief operating officer for the American Lung Association of Florida.

Rep. Jim Waldman, a Democrat from south Florida, introduced a bill last session to restore local control of smoke-free laws.

“It was dead on arrival,” said Waldman. “It was treated as well as when I introduced a $1 a pack (cigarette) tax increase in 2006.”

Waldman said he introduced the bill because he believes local leaders know what is best for their communities.

“I believe strongly in home rule,” he said. “I think when all is said and done, there’s no question that there is a trend for allowing local government to regulate cigarette smoking. It only makes sense. At a state level, we have no idea where smoking is taking place in our communities. We don’t know where teens are going to smoke, who is being exposed to second-hand smoke, or how well the laws are being enforced.”

For Snellgrove and Jordan, enforcement of smoking laws is a sore point.

“If we’re moving towards completely banning smoking in indoor places, so be it,” said Snellgrove. “I think as a society, that’s the direction we’re moving. I get a lot of professional business people who have stopped smoking and don’t want to be breathing someone else’s smoke. But if you’re going to outlaw smoking, you have to enforce it. And that’s not happening.”

The statewide ban on smoking in restaurants and nearly all other enclosed work places took that took effect in June 2003 still allowed smoking in bars that earn less than 10 percent of their income from food. Customers who violate the ban can be fined up to $500 while businesses that fail to comply can be fined as much as $2,000 for multiple violations.

A year after the ban took effect, health inspectors investigated more than 1,230 smoking complaints. Only 35 restaurants, including one in Orange County, paid a fine or had a case still pending.

Jordan said he spent more than $100,000 to add an outdoor patio for smokers at his Friendly Confines restaurant in Waterford Lakes and opened a new bar solely for his smoking customers called Smokin’ Devaney’s just 100 feet away from his other restaurant, Devaney’s Sports Pub. Customers could smoke and drink at one location, and order food to-go from the other while still adhering to the law.

“It worked out great in the beginning. Sales were up to nearly $350,000,” said Jordan.

But these days, he is bringing in just about half that amount. The restaurateur rattled off the names of several nearby bar-and-grill businesses that illegally allow smoking inside, cutting into his business.

“These places get 40-50 percent of their business from food, so they clearly are violating the law,” he said. “They’re either ringing the food up as liquor, or getting around it some other way. The business owners have bragged to me about how easy it is to get away with it.”

Olson acknowledged that smoking bans are only effective if they are strictly enforced. The Department of Business and Professional Regulation is responsible for enforcing the Florida Clean Air Act.

“There have been some interesting interpretations of the law,” she said. “It seems as though the enforcement component isn’t quite as it should be.”

So does the possibility of stricter anti-smoking laws have bar business owners worried?

“If it’s enforced, it will have a negative effect. We’d have to restructure the whole thinking about a sports bar,” said Jordan.

“While I don’t want to be thought of as contributing to death and disease, I am a businessman,” he added. “And I definitely believe in freedom of choice. If you want to smoke, smoke. If you want to gamble, gamble. That’s what makes America great.”

By Fernando Quintero, Orlando Sentinel
February 13, 2010

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