Anti-smoking laws spreading in large cities
November 15th, 2012
12:01 PM ET

Anti-smoking laws spreading in large cities

A new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that significant strides have been made in enacting anti-smoking laws across the United States, but still areas of the country remain that are largely lacking in protective measures against second-hand smoke.

Back in 2000, only one of America's 50 largest cities had laws that prevented people from smoking in bars, restaurants and private workplaces. In 2012, 30 of them were covered by anti-smoking laws, representing a 60% increase.

Also in 2000, there were no states with statewide anti-smoking policies of this nature. By 2010, there were 26 states.

All in all, almost half of the American population is covered by a state or local smoking prevention law, the report said. But there are still large gaps, especially in the South.

"This gap in policy coverage creates disparities in public health protections that are likely to both reflect and contribute to broader tobacco-related population disparities," the report said.

Research shows that smoking bans really do save lives, contributing to fewer hospital visits and deaths.

Of the 20 largest cities that do not have comprehensive smoking laws (i.e. laws that cover workplaces, restaurants and bars), 10 of them are located in the South.

When just looking at state or local policies that ban all smoking in workplaces, restaurants or bars, there are six major cities that the report identifies as totally uncovered: Atlanta, Georgia; Los Angeles, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma; Fresno, California; Virginia Beach, Virginia; and Tulsa, Oklahoma.

But that's only taking into account truly comprehensive policies, and does not take into account anti-smoking measures in other settings. For instance, several Atlanta suburbs have adopted ordinances banning smoking in parks, according to the Atlanta Journal Constitution. Georgia state law forbids smoking in restaurants and bars if they serve or employ anyone under age 18, auditoriums, indoor workplaces, medical facilities and classrooms.

Ten states that have less than comprehensive statewide smoking laws do not allow local restrictions on smoking to be different from the state law.

This report, however, has several limitations, including that it does not give credit to laws with partial coverage, such as in Atlanta.

Smoking law information is current as of October 2012, but population data is from the 2010 U.S. Census, the report said. Also, it's unclear how these policies are enforced or observed in the real world. There are also settings where secondhand smoke exposure occurs, such as apartment buildings, that do not necessarily fall under city or state policies.

Although some bars and restaurants may designate nonsmoking sections, the report said the "U.S. Surgeon General has concluded that only completely eliminating smoking in indoor settings fully protects nonsmokers" from secondhand smoke.

soundoff (189 Responses)
  1. Superfudge 88

    Sorry kaitlyn im 16, obama is a smoker.

    November 15, 2012 at 18:07 | Report abuse | Reply
    • zlop

      Not a person to emulate - Obama is LBGT - likes to receive.

      November 15, 2012 at 21:42 | Report abuse |
    • Kim

      Obama is an ex-smoker. He did smoke before his first election but quit shortly after taking office.

      November 16, 2012 at 10:23 | Report abuse |
  2. Zach

    Why not let the people decide who smokes where via economic exchanges? Say I go to a restaurant and I see that they cater to smokers. If I don't want to eat in that kind of environment I will just leave. Stop turning to the government in attempts to make people "safer". Establishments that allow smokers will either prohibit smoking in the future and regain those customers or allow smokers and make less money. If they see they are losing business and want to make more money, they will ban smoking in their establishment. It's called a Free Market. Let it do its job. If we let people vote with their wallets then most places would probably get rid of smoking inside. A lot of places won't. But if you don't like it then don't go to that restaurant. You do not dicatate their rules. they do.

    November 15, 2012 at 19:11 | Report abuse | Reply
    • rosethornne

      It isn't about the customets, it's about the employees, who can't 'just leave'.

      November 15, 2012 at 20:17 | Report abuse |
    • Bill

      Zach, we can also let the market decide about work place safety. Let us get rid of rules about air quality, chemical exposure, radition etc. in factories and let the people decide to work or not work in those places. The companies can decide which if any safety rules to enforce. Just replace bartender or busboy with factory worker. Secondhand smoke is a worker safety issue in addition to restaurant and bar patrons.

      November 15, 2012 at 20:21 | Report abuse |
    • dustymack

      Why don't we start banning people with mrsa and other airborne germs from city's as well. These anti smoking laws are insane....

      November 15, 2012 at 21:02 | Report abuse |
    • trollol

      Chefs who are true to their profession would rather serve their food to people who can truly appreciate it. I'm sure they welcome the smoking ban. Smoking has a negative effect on a person's sense of taste.

      November 15, 2012 at 21:09 | Report abuse |
    • LD

      You have no idea what you are talking about. Why? Because before bans on smoking, every restaurant had a smoking section. There were no "non smoking" restaurants. People smoked in hospitals, cafeterias, in their cars with the kids in the back. Complaints would be received with disbelief and an eye roll. It was the bans on smoking that broke the cycle.

      I wish smoking killed faster. That would really solve the problem.

      November 15, 2012 at 23:46 | Report abuse |
    • kmcg

      I recently moved to Atlanta and can't stand the smoking laws! A lot of nicer restaurants in Atl are considered "bars" so you can smoke in them. Last night I wanted to go to a bar/restaurant for dinner and football, and I can't find one without smoking in it. I have a slight smoke allergy, so its really a shame... I never stay as long in the bar as I would otherwise. Your solution of just not going to places with smoking means for me in Atlanta that I basically can't go out at night. I'm all for smoking outside, I just wish inside would stay smoke-free.

      November 19, 2012 at 08:45 | Report abuse |
  3. Viper

    Escape from L.A. (1996)

    Snake Plissken: Got a smoke?
    Malloy: The United States is a non-smoking nation! No smoking, no drugs, no alcohol, no women – unless you're married – no foul language, no red meat!
    Snake Plissken: [sarcastic] Land of the free.

    Kinda says it all huh?

    November 15, 2012 at 20:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. krehator

    No one is forcing someone to enter a restaurant. If you do not like the smoke, go somewhere else.

    There are loopholes around this. In many states you can just create a simple membership system. Then you become a club, which is often exempt.

    When are we going to ban fat people? Salt? Corn Syrup? Fraudulent advertising? Corrupt government?

    November 15, 2012 at 21:01 | Report abuse | Reply
    • MashaSobaka

      "If you do not like the smoke, go somewhere else."

      Tell that to the employees who can't just "go somewhere else."

      "When are we going to ban fat people? Salt? Corn Syrup?"

      Being fat and consuming salt and corn syrup don't force every bystander in the near vicinity to also be fat and eat salt and corn syrup. That is one heck of a false equivalency.

      "Fraudulent advertising? Corrupt government?"

      You're really trying to draw a comparison between banning smoking in public places and attempting to weed out corrupt government officials? Really?

      You seem to be a fan of reductive thinking. You need to knock it off.

      November 15, 2012 at 21:15 | Report abuse |
    • yo

      i hope you are joking.

      November 15, 2012 at 21:33 | Report abuse |
  5. MashaSobaka

    I love it when smokers harp about their "rights." Sorry, but no. You do not have the "right" to force everyone around you to contract the same diseases and health complications to which you are subjecting yourself just because you are too weak-willed to break yourself from an addiction that YOU chose. Time to put on your big boy britches and take some responsibility for your actions.

    November 15, 2012 at 21:17 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Benny

      Same could be said about the car you drive, is that your 'right' as well? Easy on the statements.

      November 16, 2012 at 01:16 | Report abuse |
    • boonie78

      It's all good as long as it doesn't interfere with what you enjoy.

      November 16, 2012 at 04:20 | Report abuse |
    • Student

      I get so annoyed when I'm just walking on the street, trying to mind my own business, when all of a sudden the person walking in front of me lights one up. Yo, I didn't ask for cancer. I'm not forcing you to breathe my infected air. Then I either have to slow down and let other people breathe in his fumes or speed up while trying not to cough. Your "right" to smoke does not mean that you can take away my "right" to good health. Sure, I can avoid him, but just 20 feet away is the next guy and I have to avoid him too and then there's a whole group of smokers right at the entrance of the building I'm going to. Why am I the one that has to go out of their way to avoid second hand smoke. It's YOUR habit, YOU deal with it.

      November 16, 2012 at 12:41 | Report abuse |
  6. lynn

    Yes!! I am MAJORLY happy about this. I get so sick when I smell smoke. I've been to the er over smoke. My hubby works with a man that swells around smoke.

    November 15, 2012 at 21:37 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Johnny K

    An increase from 1 to 30 represents a 60% increase? #failstats

    November 15, 2012 at 21:53 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Steve in seattle

      It's gone from 1 to 30 of the nations 50 largest cities.
      So... From 2% to 60% of the 50 largest cities have smoking bans. Their math seems good to me.

      November 15, 2012 at 22:05 | Report abuse |
    • JAH

      Johnny is right. When I read that part too I immediately thought the same thing. I think we all know what they meant by the 60%, but to word it that an increase from 1 – 30 is a 60% increase isn't correct. They really should have said that 60% of all cities now ban smoking. A 1 – 30 increase would be a 3,000% increase.

      November 16, 2012 at 11:22 | Report abuse |
  8. zlop

    Unlike Pot smokers using brown paper bags,
    Nicotine Smokers do not sufficiently appreciate and conserve the smoke.
    (Smoker personality is that of an assertive self-absorbed addict)

    November 15, 2012 at 21:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. Dan

    I could care less about the health of smokers, I just don't want their stink on me.

    November 15, 2012 at 21:54 | Report abuse | Reply
    • henry

      dont worry! your'e not invited to my house.

      November 15, 2012 at 23:06 | Report abuse |
  10. Steve in seattle

    These Anti-smoking laws are wonderful! I can still go to bars and restaurants and not smell like an ashtray when I get home. No more black Kleenex when I blow my nose after a night out.
    Plus.... If you ARE a smoker, you can still go all of these places, but you just have to smoke outside. No big deal. I would say that would have been the polite thing to do in the first place.
    As for everyone flipping out about the government controlling your life and strangling the free market... You have to be joking. I believe most if not all of these bans were voter approved. And we will approve it over and over again, because it is better this way!

    November 15, 2012 at 22:01 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Tesla

      Black Kleenex at the end of the night? Where is your nightclub, at a coal plant? Or have you been snorting the ashtray?

      When you sensationalize, you weaken your own argument. I've spent hours inside a small bar where literally everyone was smoking, including myself, and I've never seen nor heard of having that much precipitate in your nose.

      November 20, 2012 at 12:19 | Report abuse |
  11. zlop

    Smoke Pollution irritates and degrades the health others.
    Use as an over the counter drug - Why not eat the Nicotine ("Nicotine can protect the brain")

    November 15, 2012 at 22:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. jusme

    Anti-smoking bullying spreading in large cities

    November 16, 2012 at 01:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. jasmin

    I am a smoker and I love the bans on smoking indoors, who ever wants to smoke just go outside. What I really hate is people making comments about me smoking outside, for that I would send them to...

    November 16, 2012 at 01:35 | Report abuse | Reply
    • boonie78

      Couldn't agree more.

      November 16, 2012 at 04:22 | Report abuse |
    • kuski19

      I agree. I'm a smoker and have no problem not smoking inside. It is very annoying when your outside and people start complaining.

      November 16, 2012 at 09:04 | Report abuse |
    • megz

      I also agree. It sucks when the majority of the people inside are smoking, even for a smoker that can get overpowering. no problem smoking outside. It is terribly annoying to hear someone complain while your outside though. come on people! pull your panties out of your rears and worry about yourselves. If you cared about your health so bad I would be more concerned about getting away from the smoke instead of inhaling that 2nd hand just to stop and complain. just saying.

      November 16, 2012 at 09:44 | Report abuse |
  14. slimshadey

    I think if its so bad so terrible this smoking why doesnt the goverment ban it all together if it has been proven by the so called doctors the scientist the everybody out there that says its so bad. then why hasnt the goverment taken steps to ban it from the market .. I think if a can tax sometthing and make money out of it and say thats ok then poeple who buy it have a right to consume it the way they wish who has that right to say what you with what you buy. could you imagine that not being able to buy a beer cuz every body says ohhh my its so terrible it stinks on his or her breath and I get sick having to smell that .. perhaps tolerance on all sides are needed and not just one view.

    November 16, 2012 at 04:35 | Report abuse | Reply
    • The Boss


      November 16, 2012 at 06:25 | Report abuse |
    • Cashmeremafia

      They tried that with alcohol – didn't work out so well

      November 16, 2012 at 08:03 | Report abuse |
  15. The Boss

    What are you people thinking? There are ZERO can you read this ZERO benefits to smoking, for the smoker or the one having to be around it. The only reasons anyone can come up with a excuse to allow it to continue is because you are either addicted to it or you're making money from it. I smoked for more than thirty years and quit before it was too late, I'm not a bible banging type seeing the error of my ways. But did come to realize how much better I felt having quit. Of course I read the articles from the experts and yes I started believing I was killing myself and swearing the whole time I smoked because I liked it. Talk about denial! Lie to yourself if you want but those of us who have walked the road know better.

    November 16, 2012 at 06:23 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Bill

      There really is no benefit to the consumption of Beer and Vodka, either to the consumer or any bystanders. Why not ban that?

      There really is no benefit to the consumption of carbonated drinks, either to the consumer or any bystanders. Why not ban that?

      There really is no benefit to the consumption of Cotton Candy, either to the consumer or any bystanders. Why not ban that?

      There really is no benefit to eating hamburgers, either to the consumer or any bystanders. Why not ban that?

      I can go on for a LONG time. If we start banning things that are unhealthy for us, and have no beneficial properties we'd be left with very few choices in life. People smoke because they ENJOY smoking, people eat candy because they ENJOY eating candy. 90% of the things we do, and use during the day have ABSOLUTELY NO beneficial properties.

      November 16, 2012 at 10:36 | Report abuse |
  16. Cashmeremafia

    I'm surpised LA of all places hasn't banned it yet....

    November 16, 2012 at 08:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. larry5

    Why would the government ban cigarettes? They make a living off the taxes. Aren't taxes more important than the well being of the citizens? If politicians can't tax things they'd have nothing to do. They'd have to go golfing.

    November 16, 2012 at 08:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. zlop

    Terrorizing those with allergies - Smokers are vandalizing the commons.
    To reduce Global Weirding - Obama needs to Rendition Smokers with Fire Extinguisher Drones !

    November 16, 2012 at 09:20 | Report abuse | Reply
    • kuski19

      why does it seem that non-smokers are making all the ridiculous posts, while smokers are actually posting rational thoughts?

      November 16, 2012 at 13:33 | Report abuse |
  19. Old

    The first government in history to enact public smoking bans?
    Nazi Germany.

    November 16, 2012 at 10:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. Constantine9574288432

    Let smokers smoke, its the people that keep trying to ban smoking in various places that are a real pain in societys ass because they have nothing better to do than "force" their opinions on smokers. Get job, and above all get a life. Heck, light up a cig, so it will shut you cry babys up:/

    November 16, 2012 at 10:35 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. James Enders

    If you think this is an issue, just wait 10 years from now when you have to have a license to purchase Cigarettes and you are limited to how much you can buy per day along with Alcohol Licenses with the same limits on them. Everyday we take our Freedom for granted and will eventualy regulate ourselves into Slavery to the state. If you dont fight it now and give into the bleeding hearts we will all be issued a Intel Zip chip under the guise of Fast Medical information and then be used to purchase products directly linked to your Bank so if you dont have the chip you cannot eat. Wake up, Quit Sleeping its coming. There is nothing Liberal about Slavery.

    November 16, 2012 at 10:42 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. C. English

    The myth of secondhand smoke was created to keep people focused on smokers for causing all the cancer in the world. In Fact every man-made product causes cancer.
    Gotta love that new car smell...lmao

    November 16, 2012 at 10:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. thegodofjerks

    smoking hurts no one any more than the thousands of cars driving around the country....the exhaust from cars is known to cause all the same health problems as smoking......i don't see any of you riding a bicycle to work.....second hand smoke is plausible when confined to an enclosed space....if you are outside and not blowing smoke right in somebodys face....the smoke quickly becomes parts per thousand....then parts per million....then parts per billion.....the whole time you are glaring at that guy/girl smoking.....every car that passes by dumps far worse chemicals into the air....not to mention industry....smoking is bad for people....if u live in a home with 5 smokers who all smoke inside, chances are you 2 will suffer the effects of the smoke....and as quite a few people have stated....if you dont like smoking....dont spend your money at places that allow it

    November 16, 2012 at 10:50 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Tesla

      It's not even PPM or PPB amounts of these hazardous chemicals. OSHA looked into this. It's nanograms, picograms, and femtograms of chemicals per cigarette, when you need milligrams or micrograms of most to have any sort of health effect. That means that the argument that second hand smoke is horrific for you is assuming anywhere from 1000 to 1,000,000,000 cigarettes being smoked simultaneously. Did I mention this study was set up in a 20'x20'x9' sealed chamber to achieve these values?

      November 20, 2012 at 12:30 | Report abuse |
  24. LibertyMan

    I hate how people smell, its soo offensive to smell my fellow Americans. I cannot even go to the store because my fellow Americans smell soooo bad that it makes me sick and causes terrible bowel pain. I think we need a law that just bans peoples from existing yup that is what we need. How about lobotomies for the children so they never grow up and you can make all decision for them. And how about we just go ahead and shove a leash up your ass while were at it yup that what you idiotic people deserve because you vote for stupid laws like this and the democrats and republicans who write them. Suck it fools.

    November 16, 2012 at 10:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. Constantine9574288432

    Then get the hell out of this country if it offends you so bad libertymonkey

    November 16, 2012 at 11:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. Zach

    Since when can employees not leave their place of work because they don't like the conditions? Someone answer me that. If you don't want to work in a place because of smoking, find a new job and after enough people are not willing to work there, the manager will change the rules. Once again, Free Market. And yes, Bill, we can let the Free Market decide worker safety. The government is not here to coddle you from birth to death. It is here to defend you from enemies and enforce Rule of Law.

    November 16, 2012 at 11:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. Frederick1337

    Please go back to china where you communists belong. Thank you for leaving America, so that we might be free to smoke, enjoy fattening foods, and use self defense. Ideological subversion out, democracy stays in. Have a safe trip!

    November 17, 2012 at 22:22 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. edward cadigal

    Cigarettes smoking is dangerous to your health.... Government warn people that they might be get sick if they ignored this warning. But the addicted person don't care, they continue their habit without knowing that they gradually destroy not only their own,but also to the people in their surroundings. So banning this habit in all public places is better, they can freely to smoke only in some designated areas, for the safety of none smokers.

    November 26, 2012 at 07:05 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. Maria

    The party's over smokers! Get ready to go home! You've been smoking since the early 1900s and guess what, all things come to an end! Not only are you inconsiderate smoking fools, but ignorant as well. But no worries, cause all smokers who smoke below me get the boot when I spray their toxic fumes with my Lysol with Lemon at them. How do you like them apples? Fire with Fire? You bet! You send your fumes my way, I'll send mine yours.

    January 8, 2014 at 16:42 | Report abuse | Reply
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