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California Restaurants: A Seven Year Smoke Free Sensation.

News Editors

ROSEVILLE, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Dec. 19, 2001

The end of 2001 marks the seventh year California restaurants have been smoke free, a feat made even more amazing because the state has the strictest smoking ban in the nation -- one that includes a ban on smoking in bars as well.

Currently, virtually all restaurants in California and 90 percent of bars -- the bar ban kicking in three years later in 1998 -- comply with the 100 percent smoke-free law. What's more, California's citizens overwhelmingly support the smoking ban in restaurants, with 94 percent of non-smokers approving of the ban and 73 percent of smokers approving, according to a Field Poll conducted earlier this year.

The feared drop in restaurant sales, as a result of the ban, never materialized. During the first five years of the ban California restaurant sales grew at a rate of four to eight percent annually according to state sales tax figures. Even the bar ban kicking in three years later didn't slow the pace. Furthermore, in each of these years the growth in California restaurant sales equaled or exceeded those in the rest of the nation.

"No matter how you slice it, smoking bans did not hurt restaurant sales in any way, and the health and comfort benefits to customers and employees has been enormous," said Paul McIntyre, president & CEO of the nonprofit group Kids Involuntarily Inhaling Secondhand Smoke (KIISS).

In the past five years there has been virtually no legislation or public pressure to have the restaurant smoking ban repealed in California. "It's like smoke-free airlines. Once passengers enjoy the dramatic improvement, they never want to allow smoking on airlines again," said McIntyre. He added, "I don't think the whole nation is ready for smoke-free restaurants yet, but if this ban can be successful in such a large and culturally diverse state as California, I'm certain there are many other states ready to embrace the same workplace benefits."

Currently only three other states, Vermont, Maine and Utah, have 100 percent bans on smoking in restaurants. In the rest of the country, there are almost 1,000 local ordinances that address smoking.

Anyone interested in more information on helping restaurants become smoke free can obtain a video, pamphlets, or decals about becoming smoke free from KIISS at www.kiiss.org.
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Publication:Business Wire
Date:Dec 19, 2001
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