04/23/2005: In Montana...The Big "O"...
Didn’t get to this from one earlier this week LETTER FROM MISSOULA by Maurice Possley (Chicago Tribune):
”Two of Montanans' favorite recreational activities--smoking and drinking--took serious hits this month with lawmakers passing bills banning smoking in all public places and outlawing drinking while driving.
Montana is the 10th state with such a smoking ban while only one state--Mississippi--still allows driving with open containers of alcohol.
In this vast state with fewer than 1 million people where individual freedom has long ranked ahead of political correctness, some are shrugging their shoulders at the seeming inevitability of it all. Others are downright angry.
For taverns and bars, there will be time to get used to the smoking ban. The law will take effect Oct. 1 for all buildings and offices open to the public, but bars won't be affected until 2007.
….. (T)he state was threatened with an annual loss of $5 million in federal highway funds. The law will carry a fine of only $100 and a provision saying the offenses do not go on driving records.
You have to be caught
The new open container law will be largely symbolic, he said. "You get out in some of those remote counties, where there aren't many police, where everybody knows everybody. These boys are going to do what they want."
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Montana has the highest rate of alcohol-related deaths for every 100 million miles driven with 41 percent of those who die in alcohol-related crashes being legally drunk.
The culture of having a beer while driving home from a fishing trip will be hard to break, many folks say.
"Everyone wants to drink a beer when they're driving," said Aston.
For those who might want something besides smoke in their lungs, a few dozen paces down the street from Stockman's is Take A Breath Oxygen Bar, which opened just days after the legislature acted.
Carol Carpenter said she realized her dream of combining her master's degree in psychology with her talent for massage to create a "spiritual center, a gathering place."
Customers pay $10 to breathe scented oxygen for 15 minutes--the flavors include tangerine, peppermint, eucalyptus, vanilla and lemon.
The first oxygen bar in the world opened in the late 1980s in Tokyo, prompted largely by heavy air pollution. The fad migrated to the U.S.--actor Woody Harrelson opened the first one in Hollywood--and at one time there were hundreds, though not many remain open today.
High on the big `O'
Carpenter hopes to one day to offer her services at fire camps, set up when forest fires break out. And Missoula is famous for its winter inversions--when a heavy cloud cover traps smoke and other air pollution in the valley.
In the meantime, Carpenter has a word for the customers at Stockman's: Inhaling pure oxygen helps one recover from smoke inhalation.
"It also cures hangovers," she said with a smile.”
Karen on 04.23.05 @ 07:22 AM CST