Report: Smoking ban fears unfounded four years later

Despite the backlash at the time, the smoking ban has apparently been good for business and health.
January 2, 2014 2:57:03 PM PST
It's been four years since a controversial law was enacted that forced North Carolina restaurants and most bars to go smoke free.

Despite the backlash it received from many owners and patrons, a new report reveals the smoking ban has been good for business and health.

In 2010, the controversial ban lit up a heated debate. Many feared it would snuff out business.

"We didn't really know what to expect," said Pete Pagano, the owner of Tir Na Nog Irish Pub in Raleigh. "Being a bar, there's a lot of people that smoke."

However, now that the smoke has cleared, Pagano says just the opposite happened.

"If anything, we were surprised how little of an effect it did have and the end of it more positive than negative," said Pagano.

A new study out by the State Department of Health and Human Services backs him up. It finds the law has had no impact on the economic productivity of affected businesses.

The law is also making for a healthier work environment. Air quality tested in dozens of bars and restaurants across the state improved by 89 percent just one year after the law took effect.

Matt Coleman, the manager at the Oxford, says he can breathe a little easier now.

"Absolutely. I'm able to work out a little easier too," said Coleman.

Some, however, are still adjusting to the ban.

"I think it's good for my family," said bar patron Neal Flint. "Obviously, if I was on my own, I might find it frustrating, but overall it's a good thing for the environment and all the other people. So, I don't have a problem with it."

Four years later, Pagano isn't giving a second thought to secondhand smoke.

"Thinking back, it really was a pretty easy transition for us," he said.

The DHHS report also shows workers' exposure to secondhand smoke in the workplace was cut nearly in half.

The law is popular among North Carolinians. The study found 83 percent of people support it.

Click here to read the full study.

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