Davis Faculty Association

Archive for May, 2001

Tobacco

by Peter Rodman

A few weeks ago, Dateline ran an article on a small committee formed spontaneously to discuss issues of smoking on the Davis campus. I initiated the discussion because, like all UC campuses, UC Davis has a “Free” policy (See PPM Section 290-10), but despite this, cigarette smoke regularly enters Smoke through the air vents into my office and the classrooms where I teach. This smoke is toxic and its presence inside a building violates Federal and California laws guaranteeing a smoke free workplace. Even in comparatively smoke free California, environmental tobacco smoke contributes to all forms of cancer and other cardiopulmonary disease, exacerbates osteoporosis and other diseases of aging, increases risk of pneumococal infection, increases the suffering of asthmatics, and generally wreaks undeserved havoc on the health of those exposed to it.

So far the comments sent by readers of the article run 5 positive to 1 negative—not an overwhelming response, but interesting. My favorite is the negative, in which the author wrote: “You have no idea of how much discrimination and relentless humiliation smokers have to go through in California. I often feel welcome as a Jew in Nazi Germany. You don’t like the smell of cigarettes, and for that reason only you want to ban us even from open air spaces… And don’t tell me that you care for my health. You couldn’t care less. You just don’t like the smoke.” My correspondent is right. I don’t like the smoke. Where there is the smell of cigarette smoke, the carcinogens are present. ’s smoke, there is ill health. Nicotine is a Class A carcinogen, and nicotine is only one of many carcinogens and other toxins dispersed when tobacco is burned. Some people with allergies suffer very negative consequences from breathing smoke.

But my plaintive correspondent was wrong about my concern for the smoker’s health: I am, and we all should be, concerned for smokers’ health because smokers contribute so disproportionately to health care costs in California. The Centers for Disease Control recently estimated that medical costs related to smoking amount to more than $5 billion per year in California. Medicaid expenditures attributable to smoking in California for fiscal year 1993 amounted to nearly $1.75 billion. Medical benefits are used disproportionately by smokers, and as far as I know, smokers at UC Davis pay no more for health benefits than non-smokers. Calculations of the charges for health benefits necessarily take into account the cost of smoking related illness. In other words, we all pay for the smokers’ risks, whether we smoke or not, whether we can isolate ourselves from the smoke or not, whether we want to or not.

And, darn it, we get none of the pleasures of smoking! I must confess to being a former smoker. The memories linger of that wonderful, relaxing rush that comes with inhaling fresh smoke: as we inhale, the peripheral circulation shuts down, the pulse surges, and blood pressure skyrockets. Somehow this feeling always seemed to enhance a crisp autumn morning in the mountains or a sparkling northwest breeze across the water at the end of a day of sailing—or a dark coffee house encounter of the romantic kind! Happily for me and others who stopped smoking reasonably early in life, quitting by age 40 avoids more than 90% of risks of smoking according to an extensive epidemiological study of smokers in Britain since 1950, published last year by Sir Richard Peto and his co-authors in the British Medical Journal (321: 323-329).

Sadly, our colleagues who continue to smoke throughout life can anticipate many more visits to the doctor, more years of disability, and an acceleration of the diseases of aging as they near death’s door simply because of the smoke. Those who are fortunate may die suddenly of heart attacks or strokes—as we all may– but smokers are likely to do so sooner than non-smokers. Those less fortunate may simply lie in bed hooked to lines of oxygen, or may live a little longer without surgically removed cancerous parts. Strangely, it is likely that the first thing a cancer patient with one less lung, or no larynx and a new tracheotomy, will want after surgery is another cigarette.

A macabre upside for the rest of us to the dire predictions of early death for smokers is that an average of 13.2 years of life are lost for each death due to smoking in California (CDC statistics for1990-1994). This is an “upside” because the early deaths leave that much less tobacco smoke in the air for those of us who live a bit longer.

The last comment is callous to make a point. Smokers, no matter how intelligent, usually are unmoved by the scary truths known about their habit, but those of us who care about any or all of them would rather not share their misery in the future, let alone their smoke today.

Clearly we all would be better off without cigarettes and other tobacco products in our environment. Failing a truly smoke free policy that stops smoking at the campus borders, we can all contribute to a healthier environment by “enforcing” the existing smoke free policy at UC Davis. Those who smoke may comply by conscientiously reading and following the policy, and those who do not smoke may comply by civily reminding smokers of the policy, when appropriate.

COLA Offset, Act II

by Charles P. Nash

Readers of this newsletter may recall that in 1994-95 the University instituted a three-month offset of the payment of faculty and staff cost of living increases (COLAs) from the July 1st beginning of the State’s fiscal year. As we documented in an earlier article, the effect of this offset is a reduction in the annual take-home pay of faculty members that can range from ca. $450 for Assistant Professors to as much as $1,000 for high-step Full Professors. For academic year appointees these losses can actually persist into retirement.

The Council of UC Faculty Associations (CUCFA) recently detailed these findings in a letter to Professor Judith Gruber (Political Science, UCB), the current Chair of the University Committee on Faculty Welfare (UCFW). In that letter UCFW was urged “…to take a leadership role in abolishing the COLA delay; an outcome that would immediately benefit virtually every UC employee, not just the Senate faculty, while costing the State very little. It was further stated that CUCFA “…would be pleased to join with UCFW in pursuit of this objective, and to take advantage of (its) independence and (its) contacts to lobby the matter vigorously in the Legislature and in the Governor’s office.”

In her reply Professor Gruber acknowledged that CUCFA had “…rais(ed) an important issue, though unfortunately at a difficult budgetary moment.” She stated that the UCFW agenda for May was already set and very full, but that she would “…try to have a preliminary conversation in June, time permitting.” She further observed that “There is a virtue in waiting until fall since there is likely to be a considerable turnover in the committee and it is unlikely that this matter can be resolved in a single meeting.” On this last point we very much agree with her. This battle will probably go on for a very long time.

UC Budget Update

by Charles Nash and Myrna Hays

On May 14, reacting to a $5.7 billion deterioration in the state’s fiscal condition, the Governor proposed reducing the University’s General Fund augmentation for 2001-2002 from an original (January) figure of $202.5M to $185.8M. Some of the changes are discussed below.

Proposed increases beyond the original appropriations included:

· $100.6M to address increases in natural gas costs. This includes $55.9M in onetime funds to address current year costs. These funds are also available to promote conservation consistent with the Governor’s goal of reducing peak-load energy use by state agencies by 20 percent.

· $12.8M to fund a projected enrollment increase of 1,400 full-time equivalent students. This brings total budgeted enrollment growth, including summer enrollment, to 10,522 FTE students.

Proposed Reductions: The change from the January budget which will clearly have greatest impact on the faculty is an $89.9M reduction in the so-called partnership budget. IF the Legislature concurs, the effect of these cuts will be:

· A reduction of $47M in the compensation and benefits budget.

· A reduction of $29M in the budgets for maintenance, equipment, instructional technology, and libraries

· A reduction of $8M which was originally proposed to effect a small reduction in the UC student/faculty ratio.

· A loss of $5M in inflation adjustment funding.

Faculty Salary Impact: The $47M figure mentioned above would have funded faculty and staff merit promotions, a 2% COLA for all employees, and a 1% parity adjustment for faculty and eligible staff. Having learned a lesson from 1991-92, UC has stated that merits and promotions will not be affected. Building that firewall will leave 0.5% or less for COLAs.

These issues are currently before the Legislature. Further reductions could occur because the Governor’s proposed budget leaves only $1 billion in reserve. CUCFA has been lobbying strongly for faculty salary increases and other interests, and we will continue to do so.

DFA Board Elections

by Myrna Hays

A nominating committee consisting of Lenora Timm (Linguistics), Peter Hays (English), and Peter Rodman (Anthropology) has proposed candidates to fill DFA Board positions as listed below with the following code (C – continuing; E – elect; R – Re-elect):

Officers:
Chair: Bill Lasley (Vet. Med.) E [one-year term]
Vice Chair: John Stewart (African Studies) E

Board members:
Judy Stamps (Evolution & Eco/DBS) C
Hugo Bogren (Med. Sch: Radiology) C
Floyd Feeney (Law) R
Peter Richerson (Env. Sci.) R
Andrew Waterhouse (Vit. & Enol.) R
James Cramer (Sociology) E
Winder McConnell (German) E
Peter Rodman (Anthropology) E
Charles Nash (Chem. Emeritus) [Ex-officio due
to CUCFA board position]

All nominees have agreed to serve. Their two-year terms of office will begin Sept. 2000. Further nominations may be made upon petition of 5% of the membership (15 members) in good standing as of April 1, 2001. Such petitions must be delivered on or before June 4, 2001, to the Executive Director (address above). If no nominations are submitted, the slate shall be accepted as elected.

Members leaving the board are Ben McCoy (Chem. Engr.), Don Abbott (English), Alan Elms (Psych.) and Lynn Roller (Spanish & Classics). We thank them—especially Ben McCoy who served as Chair—for their service to the DFA.

You are currently browsing the Davis Faculty Association blog archives for May, 2001.