Starting March 1, Yellowstone County will be a “Clear Air Zone.”
What does that mean for Yellowstone County?
• Using electronic smoking devices, such as e-cigarettes, will not be allowed in public buildings.
• No smoking or vaping will be allowed within 20 feet of the doors, windows or ventilation units of a public building.
To protect against the harmful effects of secondhand smoke, in mid-December 2017, the RiverStone Board of Health adopted Rule #7. The Rule strengthens the Montana Clean Indoor Air Act (CIAA) within Yellowstone County to help protect the public from secondhand smoke and from the aerosol emitted from electronic devices.
Because youth smoking and vaping behavior tends to be modeled by observation, the Board of Health also wanted to prevent youths from starting a lifetime of addiction. The number of youth trying, and regularly using, e-cigarettes has skyrocketed with nearly 47 percent of young people having tried electronic nicotine delivery products. Adding e-cigarettes to smoke-free policies and laws also protects the public from e-cigarette aerosol, which contains ultrafine particles that are known to be toxic, can cause cancer and lead to respiratory problems and heart disease.
Montana’s Clean Indoor Air Act recognizes that the rights of nonsmokers to breathe smoke-free air takes priority over the desire to smoke. The CIAA has been state law for more than 10 years and Montanans have grown accustomed to going outside to smoke cigarettes and cigars. The Board of Health is confident the public will also cooperate when asked to go outdoors to vape and to stand 20-feet from public buildings while smoking or vaping.
The Montana Clean Indoor Air Act already requires businesses to post clearly visible “no smoking” signs at all public entrances. In Yellowstone County, those signs will be replaced by new signs that clearly prohibit indoor use of e-cigarettes and include the 20-foot smoking distance provision. RiverStone Health will mail the new window cling signs to businesses in Yellowstone County. If additional signage is needed after March 1st, businesses can contact RiverStone Health’s tobacco prevention specialist at CleanAir@RiverStoneHealth.org or by calling 651.6466.
When the Legislature passed the Clean Indoor Air Act (CIAA) in 2005, it did not address emerging products, like e-cigarettes, or the second-hand smoke that wafts into public places. Montana cities, counties, municipalities and individual businesses are free to make the CIAA more restrictive. Rule #7 will help prevent the illnesses and deaths associated with second-hand smoke and proactively prevent exposure to aerosol emitted from electronic smoking devices.
The Rule was adopted after public hearings in June and December and more than 18 months of careful Board deliberation. More than 3,600 states, counties, cities and other governmental bodies have restricted smoking near buildings or outdoor areas and 16 states and 661 counties or cities have prohibited indoor use of electronic smoking devices. Six other counties in Montana – Carbon, Granite, Lewis and Clark, Powell, Saunders and Wibaux counties – have also prohibited indoor use of e-cigarettes and other electronic smoking devices.
For more information about Rule #7, including text of the Rule, go to RiverStoneHealth.org/CleanIndoorAir.