The reality today is that the Moose Fraternity, as well as similar fraternal and service organizations, is facing declining membership on a yearly basis. There are a number of reasons that this is happening, including an aging membership base; a change in how individuals now define and interact as a community; and an increased competition for time and resources as never before. According to several surveys, however, the most consistent reason that prospects are hesitant to join or members leave the Moose is smoking within the lodge home.
This has been a contentious issue for a number of years as we try to balance the desire of a portion of our Moose membership who smoke with the growing realization that change is needed to appeal to newer generations who smoke less and have often been raised in a relatively smoke-free environment.
“Older people, as well as families with children, are particularly sensitive to smoke and tend to avoid the hazard when possible. We hear complaints all the time about members having to remove smoke-infested clothes before entering their home after a visit to the lodge,” according to Supreme Junior Governor Rodney Hammond. “The CDC reported that only 15.5% of the U.S. population smoked in 2016, and the trend has been moving steadily downward for years. Doesn’t it make more sense to cater to the 85% of current and prospective members?”
“Due primarily to health concerns, but also the lingering smell from being around smokers, my family completely avoided places that allowed smoking, including the Moose lodge,” adds Supreme Councilman Mark Penzkover. “The Moose had been part of my life since I was 2 years old and it was very tough for me to not be able to visit, enjoy and be involved in my local lodge for almost a decade due to the presence of smoke. Once the State of Wisconsin passed an indoor smoking ban, it allowed me (and many others) the opportunity to reconnect and become involved once again with my Moose lodge.”
A recommended change to the General Laws to eliminate smoking within all lodge homes is anticipated for the 2019 International Moose Convention in Las Vegas. A 2017 vote to ban smoking within lodges (not smoking areas in outdoor facilities) received a positive majority response, yet failed to meet the two-thirds majority required. In part, this was a result of delegates from lodges in states with non-smoking laws already in place not exercising their right to vote.
According to Supreme Prelate Bruce Berger, “It is absolutely essential that our lodges go smoke free! It not only opens up a whole new pool of prospective members from young and old alike, but will help get families with children or grandchildren to become members of the greatest Fraternity in the world. The time is now to take action. The Supreme Council would greatly appreciate your support in taking this positive step to ensure a bright future for the Moose.”