BOCA RATON, FL (BocaNewsNow.com) — It may seem difficult to believe, but not all that long ago, people were allowed to smoke in bars and restaurants throughout Florida. Rarely could you go out without returning home smelling like an ash tray. While there are still some restaurants throughout the area — we’ve written about Carrabba’s in Boca — that seem to cater to smokers, the law has been a huge success in cleaning up the air we all breathe.
The American Cancer Society sent this our way today:
This month, the American Cancer Society’s Florida Division and its national advocacy affiliate, the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN), are celebrating a significant milestone in the battle against secondhand smoke. July marks 10 years since the enactment of the constitutional amendment that bans smoking in most workplaces throughout the state, protecting millions of Floridians who used to be exposed to secondhand smoke on the job.
The Florida Clean Indoor Air Act (FCIAA) went into effect in July 2003 and prohibits smoking in enclosed workplaces including restaurants and public spaces.
“Secondhand smoke contributes to a number of health problems, including lung cancer, asthma attacks, respiratory infections, and heart disease,” said Ralph DeVitto, executive vice president and division operating officer of the American Cancer Society’s Florida Division. “The implementation of FCIAA has been crucial in improving the lives and health of workers in Florida over the past decade by eliminating exposure to secondhand smoke in many workplaces.”
When the FCIAA was enacted, many critics said the legislation would have a negative impact on the state’s economy. However, a 2011 study funded by the Department of Health concluded that FCIAA had no negative impact on overall sales in restaurants, hotels, motels and amusement parks in Florida.
By contrast, the dangers associated with second hand smoke are evident. Secondhand smoke causes an estimated 46,000 heart disease deaths and an estimated 3,400 lung cancer deaths annually among adult nonsmokers in the United States. In addition, the cost of extra medical care, illness and death linked to secondhand smoke in the U.S. is approximately $10 billion a year.
Some businesses are exempt from FCIAA, including standalone bars and outdoor workspaces. ACS CAN continues working to strengthen laws to ensure that all Florida workers are protected from the dangers of secondhand smoke.
“There is still work to be done until Florida is completely smoke-free,” said Karen Peterson, Florida’s Advocacy Leader for ACS CAN. “Everyone has the right to breathe smoke-free air, so we encourage even those businesses that are not covered by the current law to voluntarily go smoke-free to protect the health and safety of their employees and patrons.”