January 21, 2007
Smoking bans make headway nationwide

The city of Houston's expanded smoking ban from last year was part of an overall nationwide trend in such legislation.

Thirty years after it began as just another quirky movement in Berkeley, Calif., the push to ban smoking in restaurants, bars and other public places has reached a national milestone.

For the first time in the nation's history, more than half of Americans live in a city or state with laws mandating that workplaces, restaurants or bars be smoke-free, according to Americans for Nonsmokers' Rights.

"The movement for smoke-free air has gone from being a California oddity to the nationwide norm," said Bronson Frick, the group's associate director. "We think 100 percent of Americans will live in smoke-free jurisdictions within a few years."

Seven states and 116 communities enacted tough smoke-free laws last year, bringing the total number to 22 states and 577 municipalities, according to the group. Nevada's ban, which went into effect Dec. 8, increased the total U.S. population covered by any type of smokefree law to 50.2 percent.

It was the most successful year for anti-smoking advocates in the U.S., said Frick, and advocates are now working with local and state officials from across the nation on how to bring the other half of the country around.

I think the only thing that surprises me about this is that there might be that many places that don't have laws banning smoking in workplaces. I daresay most large companies have (or would have, if they weren't forced to do so) anti-smoking policies in effect, as the business case for it is a no-brainer, but I'm curious. Where in this day and age can you smoke on the job, for jobs that are indoors and not in your home?

Generally speaking, I think this is all to the good. There will come a point where I think the line between the health of nonsmokers and the rights of smokers will be crossed - it's not quite where banning smoking in cars when minors are present is, but I can see it from there. Maybe smoking will become sufficiently unfashionable that it'll all be moot before that line is reached. I doubt it, but you never know.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on January 21, 2007 to National news

They had this whole debate in Alaska a few years ago when I lived in Juneau and worked there. Anchorage was a pretty smokey city (with a honking large number of bars too). Juneau implemented an indoor smoking ban which I thought was great because the smoking/non-smoking sections in the bars and restaraurants never worked right. Especially in the newer upscale places that had bars inside a larger restaurant where if you didn't want to smoke you'd be off in some corner as far from the bar and the action as possible.

What used to always crack me up though were all the addicts getting their fix during the workday. Outside the office buildings you'd see these huddled clusters of addicts braving the piercing wind, snow, and below zero temps to try to light up in the alcoves infront of the office buildings. For a while it got so smokey in front of the lobby of my building that the smokers were not only banished outside, but banished to the back where they had to smoke on the loading dock. It's one thing to do that in Texas. Another thing entirely in Alaska in January.

Where in this day and age can you smoke on the job, for jobs that are indoors and not in your home?

On fishing boats for sure. I worked on a lot of commercial fishing boats in Alaska as a NMFS observer biologist and those places are full of smoke. Not just little fishing boats, but big factory ships with crews of 50 or more.

Posted by: Kent from Waco on January 22, 2007 8:30 AM

A big shocker: smoking is permitted aboard US Naval submarines.

Posted by: Zack on January 23, 2007 3:06 PM