3-5-06 – This weekend, Oklahoma restaurants got a taste of what business is like during their first weekend under a new smoking ban. Oklahoma restaurants were smoke free as of midnight on March 1st.
Restaurants must ban smoking entirely or provide separate, ventilated smoking rooms.
Reaction has been mixed from smokers and non-smokers, but one restaurant owner says the change is a positive. He says this weekend was a strong one in sales and that many customers say they enjoy the smoke-free environment.
Restaurants can still allow smoking on patio areas, as long as it remains at least 15 feet from the building.
Anyone caught violating the smoking ban in a restaurant faces a $100 fine. The ban is enforced by the state health department.
The ban took effect for most public places on September 1, 2003, but restaurants were given 30 more months to come into compliance.
The ban still allows an exception for bars and for restaurants that derive 60 % or more of their revenue from alcohol sales.
Other states with laws restricting public smoking include California, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Idaho, Maine, Massachusetts, Montana, New York, North Dakota, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Utah, Vermont, Washington and Georgia.