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State Smoking Ban Marks Milestone

October 1, 2008

St. Paul, MN – Minnesota's smoke-free law is one year old today, and supporters say it has helped clean the air. The law bans smoking in all public buildings statewide, including bars and restaurants. Mike Maguire with the American Cancer Society says it has strong support and has made Minnesota healthier.

"It's protecting workers from the carcinogenics in second-hand smoke, helping thousands of Minnesotans to quit smoking and making Minnesota a healthier place to live, work and play."

He says three-quarters of Minnesotans surveyed support the tough non-smoking law. Opponents argue it imposes undue state influence on businesses and individual freedom. There are 23 other states with similar smoking restrictions.

Maguire says bars and restaurants used to be a primary source for exposure to second-hand smoke, especially for employees.

"Since the law has gone into effect, Minnesota's bar and restaurant workers have decreased their exposure to the carcinogens in second-hand smoke by more than 80 percent."

Supporters of the law cited a John Hopkins study, which estimated 500 Minnesotans a year were dying from second-hand smoke, and pegged smoking-related medical expenses at more than $200 million.

Some business owners opposed the law, saying it would be bad for the bottom line. Maguire says there's no evidence that has happened.

"Anecdotally, we hear from a lot of business owners around the state who suggest that, while they were worried, they and their workers are happy with the law. They are healthier for having the law, and they are having great customer response as well."

More information on Minnesota's Freedom to Breathe Act is available at

Jim Wishner/Kevin Clay, Public News Service - MN