States With Smoker-Friendly Laws

No Place for Smokers

Americans have become quite divided on the issue of smoking in the past decade. Virtually no states had smoking laws Dec. 31, 2000, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, but only a decade later, almost half had a comprehensive smoking law banning the practice in restaurants, bars and private-sector workplaces. The agency predicts that all states will have comprehensive smoke-free laws by 2020. So, as you make your domestic travel plans this summer (who can afford to fly to Rio these days?), keep in mind that you won’t have the luxury to smoke anywhere you want to, or that you may even find yourself in a smoky bar when that would never be allowed back home. Smoking may be taboo, but there are some states that refuse to submit to the nonsmoking trend. MainStreet rounded up the seven that have no statewide laws at all and took a look at some of the rest that have limited anti-smoking laws. Photo Credit: mustafa…


The Most Smoker-Friendly States

In its study, the CDC found that smoke-free laws are largely regional. The New England and Mid-Atlantic states were some of the first to enact comprehensive anti-smoking laws, with many Midwest states and Hawaii following soon after. As of Dec. 31, no Southern state had adopted a comprehensive smoke-free law prohibiting smoking in bars, restaurants and workplaces. Those with no such statewide smoking restrictions include: 1. Texas 2. Mississippi 3. Kentucky 4. South Carolina 5. West Virginia 6. Wyoming 7. Indiana Some states have enacted limited restrictions, though, such as allowing smoking if there’s a designated area or separate ventilation in the venue. Next we look at the nuanced policies of eight states that have taken up the issue. Photo Credit: LawPrieR


Alabama

Worksites: Designated areas only Restaurants: No restrictions Bars: No restrictions Interestingly, the Heart of Dixie is the only state with laws prohibiting the use of cigarettes by people under 19, in addition to the sale to or purchase of tobacco products by young people, according to the CDC. Photo Credit: snappybex


Alaska

Worksites: No restrictions Restaurants: Designated areas only Bars: No restrictions Considering the anti-establishment success of Sarah Palin, it is not surprising Alaska would be a rogue state when it comes to smoking laws. Among other smoker-friendly states, Alaska is the only one that has no provisions in place to restrict the purchase of cigarettes by young people. Photo Credit: f_mafra


Oklahoma

Worksites: Designated areas only Restaurants: Ventilated areas only Bars: No restrictions In Oklahoma, about 25% of the adult population smokes, a big number among the states with lax smoking controls, according to data collected by State Tobacco Activities Tracking and Evaluation for the CDC report. Additionally, smoking prevalence among the state’s youth is 3% higher than the national average. There is no statewide smoking ban. Photo Credit: sunshinecity


Virginia

Worksites: No restrictions Restaurants: Ventilated areas only Bars: Ventilated areas only In Virginia, smoking among youth is not very common. According to state data, 9 million people have died from smoking-related causes from 2000 to 2004. Photo Credit: nikoretro


Georgia

Worksites: Designated areas only Restaurants: Designated areas only Bars: Designated areas only In July 2005, Georgia passed its Smokefree Air Act to ban smoking except in designated areas. From 2000 to 2004, roughly 10.5 million people died from smoking-related issues in Georgia, costing the state heftily, not only in lives, but in health expenditures. Photo Credit: jcmedina


Missouri

Worksites: Designated areas only Restaurants: Designated areas only Bars: Designated areas only States around the U.S. are cracking down on smoking by increasing the tax on packs of cigarettes, but Missourians don’t have to dish out a lot for a pack of smokes — an average of $4.03, according to comparison data on the CDC website. This is chump change compared with what Alaskans ($7.60 per pack) and Georgians ($7.40 per pack) have to pay. The state of Missouri charges only 17 cents in state tax, and the federal tax is $1.01 per pack. As a result Missouri shows high cigarette consumption, with an average of 97 packs per person in 2009. Photo Credit: Joelk75


Connecticut

Worksites: Ventilated areas only Restaurants: Ventilated areas only Bars: Ventilated areas only Only in 2003 did Connecticut pass a law requiring venues to have separate ventilation if they allow smoking. But smokers in Connecticut have to pay high taxes on cigarettes, totaling $4.01 — 54% of the retail price, according to the CDC. This is second only to Rhode Island, which was the first state to implement smoke-free laws and remains the strictest. Photo Credit: sk8geek


California

Worksites: Ventilated areas only Restaurants: Ventilated areas only Bars: Ventilated areas only California has had smoking restrictions on the books since 1994, though the state still allows smoking in rooms with separate ventilation. Its community of San Luis Obispo was the first in the U.S. to adopt a law that banned smoking in bars in 1990, according to the CDC. Also, thanks to California’s large population, the state has the highest smoking-attributable health expenditures across the board, doling out roughly $9 billion a year in ambulatory care, hospital care, nurse care and prescription drugs and logging roughly 37 million deaths from smoking-related issues from 2000 to 2004. Photo Credit: UggBoy UggGirl


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