Senator May Face Fine for Indoor Smoking
For smoking inside his capitol office, there is a chance Sen. Jeff Kruse, R-Roseburg, may face a $500 fine. In response, he claims that he closes the door and opens a window, but for some people it is still not enough.
On May 16, the Oregon Health Authority sent Kruse a warning that said he may be in violation of Oregon’s Indoor Clean Air Act.
The ICAA, or Smokefree Workplace Law, “prohibits smoking in the workplace and within 10 feet of all entrances, exits, and accessibility ramps that lead to and from an entrance or exit, windows and air-intake vents,” according to the Oregon Health Authority [OHA]. The law was also expanded on Jan. 1, 2016 and now bans indoor smoking of “inhalant delivery systems,” such as e-cigarettes, e-hookah, and vape pens, among other devices.
While smoking a Pall Mall cigarette outside the private Senate wing entrance, Statesman Journal reports, Kruse told them on Tuesday that he had been smoking in for his office for 20 years. It used to be common, he said.
While he claims he did not know he was bothering anyone, the correspondence between OHA and the Legislature’s legal counsel office say otherwise. A witness statement submitted to OHA claims that Kruse’s secondhand smoke will fill up third-floor Senate wing hallways. His office is also located near the break room, causing people to move, fearing the consequences.
Secondhand smoke is smoke that comes from burning tobacco products, or exhalation by the smoker who is intaking the products. As the CDC reports, there are over 7,000 chemicals in secondhand smoke, and an estimated 2,500,000 nonsmokers have died from it since 1964. They also claim there is “no risk-free level of secondhand smoke exposure; even brief exposure can be harmful to health.”
According to a letter from the legislative counsel, Kruse has been warned over the years. Since 2009, 11 incidents of smoking in the capitol have been reported, a state Department of Justice official wrote. The Marion County Health Department eventually fined the Legislature’s administrative committee $300 for the infractions.
Back in February, Senate President Peter Courtney, D-Salem, actually met with Kruse, along with Legislative Counsel Dexter Johnson, to address the issue after more complaints arose.
Kruse, who in the past has voted against indoor smoking bans, did agree to smoke outside. While he wishes he does not smoke, Kruse has no plans to quit.
More information and in-depth documentation can be found on Statesman Journal.