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State: Smoking ban cutting exposure to secondhand smoke

Posted December 22, 2010

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— A year after North Carolina enacted a smoking ban for most restaurants and bars, exposure to secondhand smoke by workers and patrons has been dramatically reduced, public health officials said Wednesday.

A state law that went into effect on Jan. 2 prohibits smoking at nearly all restaurants and bars. Cigar bars and private clubs are exempt from the law if they meet certain requirements.

Air-quality has improved by 89 percent in those locations since smoking was banned, according to studies by the state Division of Public Health.

In a 2008 survey, 7.8 percent of adults statewide reported being exposed to secondhand smoke daily at work. Preliminary data for the first nine months of this year shows that exposure is down to 4.3 percent of adults, officials said.

"The law is protecting North Carolinians from the health hazards of secondhand smoke, and that will have a lasting impact on the health of our citizens,” State Health Director Dr. Jeff Engel said in a statement.

Through the end of November, 1,343 complaints had been lodged against 874 establishments regarding non-compliance with the law. More than 40 percent of those complaints were filed within the first few weeks of it taking effect, officials said, noting the number of complaints has fallen each month since then.

"Compliance with the law has been excellent, with the vast majority of restaurants, bars and lodging facilities cooperating fully," Engel said.

Businesses that break the no-smoking law can be fined up to $200 per day, and smokers themselves could get burned with a $50 fine if they keep puffing after they're told to stop.

Paul M. Stone, president and chief executive of the North Carolina Restaurant and Lodging Association, said his membership is pleased with the law.

“The consensus is that this ban has had an overall positive effect on restaurants and hotels in North Carolina,” Stone said in a statement. “It also has been very well received from the public."

A survey conducted by the Gillings School of Global Public Health at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill found that 42 percent of people dine out more often since the ban took effect, compared with 8.3 percent who dine out less often.

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  • oleguy Dec 23, 2010

    The resturants I eat at appear to have increased in business over the past year. Its really nice to sit down and enjoy a meal with friends without all the smoke.

  • stupiditydeservesnosympathy Dec 23, 2010

    The dummies are the ones who smoke and insist on polluting everyone else's air.
    Hammerhead

    Are living "green"? do you use electricity? Drive a car? How is second hand smoker any worse then the exhaust fumes from automobiles?

  • stupiditydeservesnosympathy Dec 23, 2010

    "What part about me saying "more could be done" didn't you understand? I think more should be done about gangs....that has nothing to do with smoking. It's fun watching the smokers squirm for a change."
    Hammerhead

    It's people like you who like to ditate what I or others should do, who are ruining this country. Freedom should be that. More and more the usa is becoming the USSR.
    What part of freedom of choice do you not understand. Think of it in the terms of abortion,if you're against it, don't have one. Don't like a resturant that has a smoking section? Don't eat there.

  • Hammerhead Dec 23, 2010

    What part about me saying "more could be done" didn't you understand? I think more should be done about gangs....that has nothing to do with smoking.
    It's fun watching the smokers squirm for a change.

  • stupiditydeservesnosympathy Dec 23, 2010

    "Plenty is done to curb drunk driving, more could be done I'll agree"

    I beg to differ. Not enough is being done to prevent drunk driving. You can have all the laws in place but not having a justice system to truly enforces it, those laws are usless.

    But what does DD have to do with smoking? These are two separate issues, in case you hadn't noticed.

    Yes they are two seperate issues. However Drunk driving affects more people. And again I say it's about choice. Patrons at a resturant can go to another resturant if they don't want to be around smokers. People on the roads with drunks don't have that choice b/c they don't know there is a drunk on the road.
    This "ban" was done with the pretence of saving lives. It will save none to very few. If NC wants to make an impact in saving lives, put a high tax on alcohol and make all dwi offences punishable with mandatory jail time.

  • Hammerhead Dec 23, 2010

    The dummies are the ones who smoke and insist on polluting everyone else's air.

  • Hammerhead Dec 23, 2010

    Tree huggers are behind this smoking ban? Who knew? You'll have to explain that one to me. I see you have your enemy and blame them for everything....lot of bogeymen in your life.

  • carroln Dec 23, 2010

    Smoking has been going on for years and years . now we got a bunch of tree hugging anti everything people that don't have a life other than screwing with someone elses. If you don't like smoking go to a place where they don't smoke. not because the dictators of this state say so but because the owners decided to make it a no smoking place. It's not the dummies in the governors office place to decide when and where you can and cant smoke!! I don't like to be bothered with dummies so let's put a ban on them and you will not have to be bothered by any of this other junk. Tree huggers ands enviromentalist, thats the whole problem!!! SCRUB

  • Hammerhead Dec 23, 2010

    Plenty is done to curb drunk driving, more could be done I'll agree. But what does DD have to do with smoking? These are two separate issues, in case you hadn't noticed. If you get caught smoking in a prohibited area, you are simply told to leave or put your cig out. I don't see people getting arrested for it.

  • stupiditydeservesnosympathy Dec 23, 2010

    Tax Alcohol like they Tax Cigarettes
    bbrown07

    Amen Alcohol should have no less then 4 dollars a bottle tax on it.

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