Newsroom > DHHS News Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 8, 2010

CONTACT
Marla Augustine, Communications and Legislative Services, (402) 471-4047 or marla.augustine@nebraska.gov

Chief Medical Officer: Smoke-free Air Law is a Success


Lincoln—Nebraskans widely support the statewide smoke-free air law, according to a report issued by the Department of Health and Human Services. The report is entitled “Six Months of Smoke Free Air: The Nebraska Clean Indoor Air Act” and is on the DHHS website at www.dhhs.ne.gov .

Over 80 percent of the Nebraskans surveyed said they believe it is important to have a law prohibiting smoking inside most public buildings, including restaurants and bars. Over 85 percent agreed that those establishments are now healthier for employees and customers as a result of the smoke-free air law and say that they still frequent those places as much as they did before the law went into effect.

“Nebraskans have entered a new era of better health and wellness because smoking is no longer allowed in public places,” said Dr. Joann Schaefer, Chief Medical Officer and Director of the Division of Public Health. “Breathing secondhand smoke is harmful to everyone and contributes to diseases like lung cancer, heart disease and other illnesses. Nebraskans recognize this and support the new law.”

On June 1, 2009, Nebraska became the 16 th state to implement a law prohibiting smoking in workplaces, restaurants, bars and gaming establishments. The only exceptions are some hotel rooms, tobacco-only retailers, cigar bars, research facilities and private residences that are not being used as a child care program.

Prior to implementation, the Tobacco Free Nebraska Program and the Nebraska Clean Indoor Air Program partnered with local health departments, the Nebraska Restaurant Association, Big Red Keno, Inc., the Nebraska Liquor Control Commission and many others to educate the business community and the general public about the new law. A toll-free information line and e-mail address were created to respond to questions.

“The groundwork that DHHS and its partners did before the law went into effect helped businesses and the general public learn about it and what’s required,” Dr. Schaefer said. “That helped keep the number of complaints low.”

A total of 108 complaints were reported during the first six months of the law, with the majority relating to bars or bar/restaurants. Most of the complaints occurred during the first month.

For more information about the smoke-free air law, go to www.SmokeFree.ne.gov . For help in quitting smoking, contact the toll-free Nebraska Tobacco Quitline number at 1-800-784-8669 (1-800-QUIT-NOW).

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