SOURCE: HealthPartners

January 30, 2007 06:00 ET

Hundreds Gather at the Capitol to Support a Statewide Smoking Ban

Majority of Minnesotans Support a Ban in All MN Workplaces

BLOOMINGTON, MN -- (MARKET WIRE) -- January 30, 2007 -- With last Thursday's introduction of the Freedom to Breathe Act, more than 800 citizens are gathering in St. Paul from 10 a.m. to noon today for the first ever Smoke Free Minnesota Day at the Capitol. Their goal is to voice support for this legislation that is critical to improving public health in our state.

The Day at the Capitol is sponsored by Allina Hospitals & Clinics, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota, ClearWay MinnesotaSM, HealthPartners and supported by many other organizations. This is an unprecedented effort and partnership among health plans, concerned citizens, non-profit and commercial enterprises to advocate for a comprehensive statewide smoking law.

A recent public opinion survey completed by ClearWay MinnesotaSM found an overwhelming majority of Minnesotans (69 percent) support a comprehensive, statewide smoking law in all public workplaces, including bars and restaurants.

"Secondhand smoke is a significant health issue," said Jodi Rohe, a St. Cloud resident participating in the Day at the Capitol. "This is the year to act as an overwhelming majority of Minnesotans support a statewide smoke-free law. It's an extremely important issue because it'll save lives, which is why I took the time to travel from St. Cloud to the capitol to send that message to my legislators."

Rohe will be joined by hospitality workers, concerned citizens, physicians, CEOs and other executives from the sponsoring organizations. Dr. Dileep Bal, a district health officer for the Hawaii State Health Department, will also be speaking to advocates that day. Bal worked formerly for California's Department of Health Services for more than two decades and was responsible for implementing California's successful tobacco control efforts.

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