Antismoking measures gain ground – restaurants

Antismoking measures gain ground – restaurants – column

Marilyn Alva

Antismoking measures gain ground

Clean-air advocates have won major concessions for nonsmoking diners recently in Colorado and New York. Other localities are considering similar changes to protect the public from sharing the air of smokers.

Aspen, Colo., adopted an ordinance, effective immediately, that requires 50% of restaurant space to be set aside for nonsmokers, but that is only a concession to panicked restaurant owners until mid-1986, when every restaurant will be required to have a 100% smoke-free environment.

The only way Aspen restaurateurs could permit puffing customers would be to provide them a completely separate room with separate ventilating equipment.

Proponents of the Aspen ordinance have indicated they plan to “tell the whole world we have a smoke-free environment’ and believe tourists will beat down the door to visit the city, known for its winter skiing.

An unconvinced Donald Quinn of the Colorado-Wyoming Restaurant Association made this observation: “It will certainly attract a zealous nonsmoker.’

Quinn, who said he feels “terrible’ about the ordinance, is concerned that smoking customers will turn to neighboring Snowmass, three miles away, when it is time to choose a restaurant. “I’ll be damned if I’ll eat anyplace where I can’t smoke,’ Quinn said.

In more populous Nassau County on Long Island, the county Board of Health approved a new public antismoking regulation, effective Feb. 1, that mandates restaurants set aside at least half their seats for nonsmokers. If they install sophisticated air-purifying and ventilating devices, they would have to set aside only a quarter of their seats for nonsmokers.

The new measure, according to the County Department of Health, was designed to “further protect the public and particularly its nonsmoking component from adverse health effects that could be caused by exposure to secondhand smoke.’

The New York Restaurant Association, which opposed the measure, has asked ventilating experts to study the ventilation requirements to determine whether most restaurants could easily attain and afford them.

If they cannot, association president Fred Sampson said the group will try to reopen the issue with Nassau public officials. He suspects, however, that “the industry could not afford this kind of expense.’

Elsewhere, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors in Virginia recently proposed a law requiring restaurants with more than 75 seats to cordon off 25% of their space for nonsmokers, and in Massachusetts a House committee has recommended nonsmoking legislation that would force eating establishments with at least 75 seats to provide at least 200 sq. ft. for nonsmokers.

A bill in the South Carolina Legislature and a similar one in South Carolina’s Richland County propose to ban smoking altogether in public gathering places.

South Carolina Sen. Joe Wilson, author of the state bill, said the proposal has favorable odds of passing because of increased medical evidence showing the health risks of secondhand smoke.

COPYRIGHT 1985 Reproduced with permission of the copyright holder. Further reproduction or distribution is prohibited without permission.

COPYRIGHT 2004 Gale Group