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News Summary

State ban on smoking still evokes emotions

Publication Date: 2005-07-03
  • Publication:Daytona Beach (FL) News-Journal
Two years after voters shut down smoking in most Florida businesses, the ban still stirs strong opinions from people like Lewis -- and, on the other side, from people who relish the fact they can eat a meal or go bowling without breathing someone else's smoke.

Despite the emotions, state records show relatively few complaints about businesses and smokers violating the law. State agencies have received 142 complaints about possible smoking violations in Volusia and Flagler counties, with only two establishments forced to pay $250 fines.

Even some of the ban's fiercest early opponents, including the restaurant and bowling industries, are pushing for stringent enforcement. Their main worry is that some establishments are unfairly competing for smokers' business by abusing an exemption that allows smoking in some bars.

Health officials say the small number of complaints shows the law, which voters added to the Florida Constitution in 2002, has largely worked.

Paul Hull, an American Cancer Society official who closely watches the issue, said a few "rogue establishments" have disregarded the law. But he said it has met its goal of curbing exposure to secondhand smoke.