I read about Bob Ellerd's passing in the Billings Gazette last November. Ellerd served in the Montana House of Representatives for 18 years, yet one of his proudest accomplishments included his "nonsmoking bill" of 1979.
We've come a long way since the passage of the bill sponsored by Rep. Ellerd. Montana's initial Clean Indoor Air Act included provisions for some smoke-free indoor places (e,g,, nonchartered buses, elevators, museums, galleries, kitchens, and public libraries). Of course, the act, weakened by tobacco industry lobbying, came with exemptions. Smoking would continue in restrooms, taverns and bars where meals were not served and vehicles or rooms seating six or fewer members of the public - as well as requiring smoking rooms for government.
Fast-forward 30 years. This October, Montana will implement the final phase of a truly comprehensive, all-inclusive clean-indoor-air act - without any exemptions! In 2008, results from the Montana Adult Tobacco Survey clearly showed that support has grown for the act's full implementation (that includes bars, taverns and casinos) from 67 percent in 2006 to 75 percent!
I am proud to be part of that 75 percent. My husband and I can't wait to enjoy so many places we have avoided for years simply because it was not worth compromising our health to do so. So thanks to the late Ellerd and all the others who have advocated for a healthier smoke-free Montana!
Robin E. Morris