Local News

New Campaign Promotes Wake County's Smoke-Free Restaurants

Posted June 25, 2004 6:19 a.m. EDT

— Statistics show that about 75 percent of North Carolinians do not smoke. There is a new campaign to promote Wake County restaurants that cater exclusively to that crowd.

Lynne Garnett, who does not smoke, said she likes to eat at the Brass Grill in downtown Raleigh because the restaurant is smoke-free. She said eating in a non-smoking section at other restaurants just is not the same.

"If you are sitting on the edge of the non-smoking section, and the smoking section is right over there, it's awful," Garnett said.

At least 150 Wake County restaurants are smoke-free, and now they can proudly display their policy. Irregardless Cafe was the first to put up a new decal and certificate from

Project Assist.

The signs let patrons know the entire restaurant is non-smoking.

"Tobacco use is the No. 1 preventable cause of death in the U.S.," said Deborah Cerrito, of Wake County Project Assist. "There are many other things we can't change. This is something we can change and have a positive effect on."

The goal is to raise awareness of the dangers of secondhand smoke and to provide customers a smoke-free atmosphere.

Ricky Martin likes to light up after his meal. He is not surprised at the big push to ban butts.

"It's a trend," Martin said. "I don't particularly like it, but you have to go with it."

By state law, a city or county cannot outlaw smoking -- only encourage a ban. Project Assist is working to recruit more restaurants to join the effort.

Local smoke-free restaurants don't think advertising their policies will hurt business at all. A recent study out of New York found that business actually went up by 10 percent.

The Big Apple banned smoking in 2003. A total of eight states ban smoking in all restaurants and bars -- a clear sign smoking is under attack across the country.

In all, more than 32 percent of the U.S. population is under local or state smoke-free laws. That statistic was compiled by the American Nonsmokers Rights Foundation.