Goodbye Smoky Bars? -- SPOKANE -- Are you one of those "proud" smokers who refuse to patronize an establishment where you can't light up? Well, you may soon be out of luck.
BREATHE -- a cooperative among the American Cancer Society, the American Heart Association and the American Lung Association of Washington, plus several other health organizations -- has launched a campaign to ban indoor smoking in all public places, including restaurants, bars, bowling alleys and skating rinks.
"Legislators can give voters a gift that will save lives, improve health and won't cost taxpayers a penny," said Marina Cofer-Wildsmith, CEO of the American Lung Association of Washington and spokeswoman for BREATHE, when the campaign was announced earlier this week. "A statewide ban will level the playing field for businesses and protect workers."
Many restaurants, bars and other establishments are already smoke-free.
According to a survey BREATHE has conducted across the state, voters in every part of Washington strongly favor banning smoking in all public indoor places: 71 percent considered secondhand smoke a serious health risk, and 78 percent said they have the right to clean air where they eat, work and shop.
Bartenders, waiters and waitresses, who work in establishments where smoking is allowed, are two to three times as likely to die from lung cancer and heart disease as the rest of the population.
Sen. Rosemary McAuliffe (D) and Rep. Joe McDermott (D) will champion two bills in the upcoming legislative season in support of the smoking ban.
Minus Some Meth -- SPOKANE -- It looks like we might be getting a handle on our meth problem, with the Spokane Police Department documenting a better than 50 percent decrease in the number of meth labs found in the city so far this year.
The special investigations unit and patrol officers have found 29 labs this year, compared to 73 at the same time last year.
"That is a huge reduction," says Dick Cottam, public information officer for the SPD. "One reason is that people are using more crystal meth, and that's more complicated to make. It takes an extra step that is very complex, and I think cooks around here may be opting out of that one."
Cottam says that at least 70 percent of the meth used in the Spokane area comes from Mexico and California.
"It's hard to tell if we are getting more or less meth into the area, because you never know what you don't get," says Cottam. "You don't know what was on that car that just pulled in at the truck stop, unless you get it."
BizStreet Buzz -- SPOKANE -- Many small businesses can't hire the savvy consultants major corporations can afford; that's why the Spokane Chamber of Commerce is launching BizStreet, a program focused on providing specialized resources (such as training workshops) to small business owners in the area
"All the trainings will be on the first Tuesday of the month," says Nicole Hillman-Stewart, director of marketing for the Chamber. "Our first training will be on Jan. 6, and it will be on tax preparation, so it's very relevant."
Hillman-Stewart says certain elements of BizStreet are free, but some of the trainings have a fee for both Chamber members and non-members.
"Another element of BizStreet is the Web site (bizstreetspokane.com)," Hillman-Stewart says. "It's an informational source for those considering starting a business or looking to grow their existing business."
The site offers a variety of services, links and resources, including an "ask the expert" feature that allows business owners to ask questions and get free advice each month on a different topic. The Chamber will send out BizStreet News, a monthly e-communications tool updating small business owners on upcoming trainings and current BizStreet features.
In addition, the Chamber is promoting the Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC), which is a free resource providing specialized assistance to businesses on contracting with governments. The PTAC is a statewide effort, supported by the Chamber and the Defense Logistics Agency.
To learn more, visit: www.spokanechamber.org or call 624-1393.