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The home for VPR's coverage of health and health industry issues affecting the state of Vermont.

New Law Puts More Restrictions On Lighting Up

A new law further limits where smokers can light up.

Vermont is about to join a handful of other states that ban smoking  anywhere inside hotels, motels and other lodgings. 

A law that goes into effect July 1 includes a number of provisions that further restrict where smokers can light up.

Health Commissioner Dr. Harry Chen says the smoking restrictions in the new law are designed to further protect people from second hand smoke and discourage smoking by limiting where it can be done.

Act 135, passed by the legislature last session, essentially removes the last sanctuary for smokers in public or business spaces.

The law builds on previous legislation.  Enclosed public places including restaurants, bars and private clubs have been smoke free since 2005. Five years ago the state amended its amoking in the workplace law to prohibit smoking anywhere inside a place of employment.

Health Commissioner Dr. Harry Chen calls Act 135, “another step in that journey.”

Chen says the smoking restrictions in the new law are designed to further protect people from second hand smoke and discourage smoking by limiting where it can be done. 

The law also prohibits smoking on school grounds, outside of childcare facilities, and in motor vehicles carrying young children.

For the first time the state is also placing limits on where increasingly popular electronic, or e-cigarettes can be used. 

They will be prohibited on school grounds and at licensed childcare facilities.

Chen says the health effects of e-cigarettes are still being studied.  Currently the concern is preventing young people from taking them up.

“That’s why our emphasis really has been on modeling behavior that kids see in schools and in child care facilities,” he says.

Vermont becomes the sixth state to ban smoking anywhere inside hotels and other lodgings.

Tori Ossola with the Vermont Chamber of Commerce says the law won’t bring a dramatic change to businesses in the industry, since many were already largely smoke free.

“The chain properties, the Hiltons, the Sheratons the Marriotts. from their  parent companies the policy has been to be a smoke-free environment,” says Ossola. “The privately owned properties were compliant with Vermont laws; so we feel that it’s not going to have a great impact on the lodging industry here in Vermont.”

The law also creates a 25 foot smoke free buffer zone around state buildings and requires state-owned and operated hospitals or secure facilities to have a smoke-free campus.

Steve has been with VPR since 1994, first serving as host of VPR’s public affairs program and then as a reporter, based in Central Vermont. Many VPR listeners recognize Steve for his special reports from Iran, providing a glimpse of this country that is usually hidden from the rest of the world. Prior to working with VPR, Steve served as program director for WNCS for 17 years, and also worked as news director for WCVR in Randolph. A graduate of Northern Arizona University, Steve also worked for stations in Phoenix and Tucson before moving to Vermont in 1972. Steve has been honored multiple times with national and regional Edward R. Murrow Awards for his VPR reporting, including a 2011 win for best documentary for his report, Afghanistan's Other War.
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