Thursday, May 14, 2009

Smoke-free Efforts Move Forward in Wisc., N.C.

Kudos to Wisconsin and North Carolina for becoming the latest states to act to protect their citizens from the dangers of secondhand smoke. On May 13, both state legislatures gave final approval to bills calling for smoke-free workplaces, restaurants and bars.

As one might expect, Wisconsin’s law is much stronger – calls for 100 percent smoke free workplaces, restaurants, bars and hotel rooms. As with most state laws, certain exemptions are provided – in this case, for cigar bars and tobacco retail shops. And, as often is the case, some preemption language “slipped in.” The state allows certain businesses to designate outdoor smoking areas on privately-owned property – local municipalities are preempted from passing stronger laws affecting private property, like bar or restaurant patios. However, local communities CAN pass stronger indoor and outdoor restrictions on publicly-owned property. The governor is expected to sign the bill early next week.

Now for North Carolina – a big applause for bucking the odds and passing a statewide law. Remember, this is the state that gave us Winston and Salem cigarette brands and still feels significant pressure from “big tobacco.” While all workers won’t be protected from dangerous secondhand smoke, an important group – restaurant and bar employees, as well as their patrons, will be able to breathe easier. Governor Beverly Perdue is expected to sign the bill, which would go into effect January 2, 2010. We appreciate the efforts of the North Carolina Alliance for Health and NC Prevention Partners who pressed for stronger protections and who will continue to fight for the health of all North Carolinians.

Diane M. Canova
Managing Senior Fellow
& Senior Program Officer


Post a Comment