We'll Adjust To Smoking Ban

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Remember November 2006? Remember how long you stood in the voting booth, ticking off ‘yes' or ‘no' to each of 19 propositions?

Well, it's six months later and the day of reckoning has come.

All those propositions that passed -- minimum wage hike, denying bail to illegal immigrants charged with a felony, smoking ban in public places -- are now going into effect.

For many Arizona residents, the proposition that will have the most direct personal impact is the smoking ban.

In two weeks, restaurant and bar owners will empty ashtrays for the last time and begin airing out their establishments for good.

It's a cultural shift that has been slowly rippling across the country for years.

It wasn't so long ago that people smoked at their desks while they worked and on airplanes while they traveled. In fact, smoking wasn't banned on airplanes until 1990.

Now, it's hard to imagine that anyone was ever allowed to light up in an enclosed airplane cabin or that people really called one part of the plane "smoking" and another "nonsmoking" without laughing.

Times change and we change with them.

As bar owners worry about the loss of customers or as customers worry about having to walk outside to smoke, they should remember the lesson of the airplane.

In a few years, people will look back at the days when you couldn't go to a bar without inhaling a lung-full of secondhand smoke as a quaint but shocking relic of the past.

If New York City can institute and accept a smoking ban, anyone can do it.

We'll adjust.

Until then, we need to learn the new rules.

On April 5, the Arizona Department of Health released the rules for the smoking ban that officially goes into effect on May 1.

  • At that time, smoking will be prohibited within 20 feet of any business entrance.

According to the Department of Health Web site, "a review of current research determined that 20 feet is a safe distance to protect people from smoke."

Patios are exempt, as long as smoke does not drift into indoor areas.

The Oxbow Saloon, for one, is already building its outdoor smoking area.

When people, other than bona fide guests, are present in fraternal or veterans clubs, smoking is not permitted.

The complete list of rules and exemptions, frequently asked questions, free downloadable signs, and a detailed checklist of what business owners can do to prepare for the law to take effect can all be found on www.smokefreearizona.org.

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