NC goes smoke-free

Restaurants and bars in North Carolina will go smoke-free on Saturday January 2, 2010, making NC the first southeastern state to completely prohibit smoking in restaurants and bars.

The Center for Disease Control notes that the NC law doesn’t prohibit smoking in private workplaces, so NC will not make the list of states with 100 percent smoke-free laws that include all workplaces, restaurants and bars.

Secondhand smoke causes 46,000 heart attacks and 3,400 lung cancer deaths each year and yet, there are still over 126 million nonsmokers in the U.S. exposed to secondhand smoke.  In 2006, the Surgeon General concluded that there is no risk-free level of exposure to secondhand smoke and that eliminating smoking from all indoor areas is the only way to fully protect people from secondhand smoke exposure.  Separating smokers from nonsmokers, cleaning the air and ventilating buildings are not effective ways to protect the public from secondhand smoke exposure.

The Institute of Medicine recently concluded that secondhand smoke exposure could trigger a heart attack and communities that enact and enforce strong comprehensive smoke-free policies realize a reduction in hospitalizations for heart attacks. Two recent scientific studies that reviewed this topic estimated, on average, heart attack hospitalizations drop 8 percent to 17 percent the first year after implementation of a smoke-free law.

According to CDC’s State Tobacco Activities Tracking and Evaluation (STATE) System, there are 22 states (including D.C.) with 100 percent smoke-free workplaces, restaurants and bars.

Later in 2010, laws that prohibit smoking in workplaces, restaurants and bars will take effect in Michigan (May 1, 2010) and Wisconsin (July 5, 2010).

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