September 10, 2009
New Smoke-Free Outdoor Dining Law Takes Effect Saturday, September 12
AUGUSTA - Maine outdoor dining areas will now be entirely smoke-free later this week. A new law, which takes effect September 12, applies to any eating establishment where food and drink is served to the public for consumption on the premises, including restaurants, bars, and snack bars. The law follows those creating smoke-free indoor dining areas 10 years ago and smoke-free bars five years ago. Maine is the third state in the country to prohibit smoking in outdoor dining areas.
"Smoke-free laws clear the air and help protect restaurant and bar employees as well as patrons from secondhand smoke," said Dr. Dora A. Mills, director of the Maine CDC. "The scientific evidence on the health risks associated with exposure to secondhand smoke is overwhelming. Just because you’re outside in the open air doesn’t mean you’re protected from the dangers of secondhand smoke."
Secondhand smoke is a known cause of lung cancer, heart disease, low birth-weight births, and chronic lung ailments such as bronchitis and asthma (particularly in children), as well as other health complications. Exposure to secondhand smoke has been estimated to result in at least 38,000 annual deaths in the United States and over one million illnesses in children.
"Now, Maine families and visitors can enjoy dining outdoors in a smoke-free environment. It's a law whose time has come" said Rep. Joan Cohen, sponsor of LD 820.
The state legislation was modeled after Portland’s ordinance that created smoke-free cafe patios, decks and other outdoor dining areas. Although the 2008 ordinance covered outdoor areas of restaurants and bars until 10:00PM, the statewide legislation ensures that outdoor dining areas will be smoke-free during all operating hours.
Maine restaurant and bar owners are becoming increasingly supportive of smoke-free laws, recognizing that these laws can have a positive impact on not only public health and their employees’ well-being, but also the health of their business. In fact, numerous local and nationwide studies show that smoke-free laws do not hurt restaurant profits and they often produce positive economic impacts.
Oliver Keithley, owner of the Porthole Restaurant, Comedy Connection and the Harbor’s Edge Room in Portland, said, "Personally, I am extremely pleased about the new law. I am happy to be able to maintain a healthy work environment for my staff and also to promote a cleaner, smoke-free experience for our guests."
To help inform Mainers and visitors of these ordinances, the Maine CDC is distributing free signs through the local Healthy Maine Partnerships. An information brochure was also sent to all licensed eating establishments in the state. Supplemental materials and more information about this and Maine’s other smoke-free laws is available at:
Additionally, a press conference recognizing the new law will be hosted by the Maine Medical Association and held September 12 at 12:45PM, at the Quarterdeck Restaurant in Bar Harbor.
For more information, please contact:
Dora Anne Mills, MD, MPH