Multnomah: Smoke Free Salsa Dance Party Marks New Law

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Starting at midnight on New Year's Eve, Oregon's Smoke free Workplace Law will protect nearly every Oregon employee from the health risks of secondhand smoke. Danny Cardoso, owner of Aztec Willie's in Portland, wants to celebrate.

"A night of smoke free salsa dancing is a great way for folks to start a healthy New Year. We're looking forward to sharing in the joy of this celebration," said Cardoso. The event will be on New Year's Eve and feature salsa dancing (with lessons), a dance performance by Sabor Latino and live music by Barrio Latino.

The celebration, for people ages 21 and older, will be held on Wednesday, December 31, at 1501 NE Broadway in Portland, starting at 9:00 p.m. and running until 2 a.m. The salsa lessons begin at 9:30, followed by a dance performance, live salsa music and then a midnight toast. Admission is $15.

The celebration is the culmination of several months of collaboration between the Tobacco Prevention and Education Programs (TPEP) in Clackamas, Multnomah and Washington counties and the Oregon Human Development Corporation. These organizations frequently work together to deliver comprehensive tobacco prevention programs to area residents. This year they have focused extensively on preparing business owners and the public for the new law.

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"Ninety-five percent of tri-county residents, including 76 percent of smokers, agree that smoking should not be allowed in indoor workplaces. In addition to attracting new clientele, operating smoke free also saves businesses money on cleaning, repairs and employee sick days," says Amanda Garcia-Snell, TPEP Coordinator for Washington County.

Garcia-Snell notes that there are economic effects of tobacco use, too. "Tobacco use is the leading cause of workers' lost productivity in Oregon. Every year, tobacco costs the tri-county area nearly $710 million in direct medical costs and lost productivity due to premature death. This new law will encourage people to quit smoking and protect non-smokers from secondhand smoke," she adds. Lawmakers believe that through reducing secondhand smoke exposure, and by making it harder to smoke in public places, Oregon can reduce tobacco-related illness and deaths.

Many business owners support the new law. A recent survey showed that 66 percent of businesses affected by the new law are already smoke free. Many other businesses have been preparing for the change all year, including some that opted to go smoke free in advance of the law.

The new law covers bars, bingo halls and bowling centers, as well as 75 percent of hotel and motel sleeping rooms and all employee break rooms. In addition, every Oregon business will be required to maintain a 10-foot smoke free zone around doors, windows and ventilation systems.

The law provides an incentive for employees and customers who smoke to quit. Seventy-five percent of smokers in Oregon want to kick the habit, and a smoke free workplace is a proven way to help people go smoke free for good. Oregon's Quit Line is a free service available to all Oregonians at 1-800-QUIT-NOW or 1-877-2NO-FUME. Also, many private insurance plans cover cessation support, proven to make attempts to quit more successful. Smokers should ask their health care providers for information.

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