TRENTON – Senator John H. Adler today said his bill, S-1926, to require restaurants and other public places to be smoke free is “the single most important proposal to promote health in my legislative career.”
Senator Adler, D-Cherry Hill, said, “This measure will save lives. This law will prevent chronic illnesses and avoid tragedy for many thousands of families.”
Senator Adler noted that studies have concluded banning smoking in public places is actually good for business.
“This one law will grow our economy and improve public health – all in one, clean breath,” he said. “We know from experience in California, Florida and New York City that restaurant and bar business will actually increase.”
The measure calls for penalties of $250 for a first-offense smoking violation; $500 for a second offense and $1,000 for each subsequent offense, Senator Adler said.
“There are so many facts established about the cancer-causing effects of second-hand smoke that we cannot afford to sit idly by while non-smokers contract deadly diseases,” Senator Adler said.
Anti-smoking groups believe second-hand smoke causes as many as 53,000 deaths in the United States each year.
Senator Adler’s bill was approved today by the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee. It now goes to the full Senate.
“This bill responds to the need to provide some regulatory juice to those in blue-collar jobs who cannot stop the negative health effects of smokers where they work,” Senator Adler said. “Waitresses, bartenders and other service employees are exposed to much higher levels of environmental tobacco smoke than office workers and are at an increased risk of cancers, lung and heart diseases even if they are non-smokers themselves.”
Senator Adler said research has indicated that food service workers had the highest levels of exposure to second-hand smoke of any occupational group in the country.
“Food service workers face as much as a 50 percent greater risk of lung cancer than the general population,” Senator Adler said.
“This is something we can do to remove conditions which lead to cancer – it seems dead wrong to stand by and do nothing.”