The first year of New Jersey's ban on smoking in restaurants, bars and other public places was pronounced a success yesterday by state and local health officials and anti-smoking activists.
The Smoke-Free Air Act, which will be a year old Sunday, has been met with widespread compliance by business operators, has overwhelming public support and has led to significant improvements in the air quality of indoor public places, state Health and Senior Services Commissioner Fred Jacobs said.
"I am pleased to say that patrons and employees are working in healthier environments thanks to the successful implementation of the Smoke-Free Air Act in New Jersey," Jacobs said. "This landmark law ... is a giant step forward in public health prevention."
Citing a survey conducted by the New Jersey Medical Society, the commissioner said 73 percent of people expressed strong support for the ban, and 89 percent believe it has made restaurants and bars safer for customers and employees.
Not everyone is happy, of course. It's a shame to see small businesses close and a reduction in business for some others. It's only a shift, however: overall, food and beverage service jobs have increased in the last year.
I have to agree with Dr. Conway:
...New Jersey lawmakers said they had seen little if any negative effect in the state and are unlikely to adjust the ban, unless it is to eliminate the exemption for casinos.
"The Legislature would have to see data before it would be prepared to subject people to the health risks of indoor smoke," said Assemblyman Herb Conaway Jr. (D., Burlington), a physician and sponsor of the ban. "It would be a very tough road to travel."
Breathe easy, Fair State.