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​Mecklenburg Restaurants and Bars Smoke-Free for Five Years

1/2/2015

No smoking​Take a deep breath and celebrate the New Year for a healthy reason.

January 2 marks the fifth anniversary of enacting the Smoke-Free Restaurants and Bars Law in North Carolina (NC House Bill 2 or “An Act to Prohibit Smoking in Certain Public Places and Certain Places of Employment”).

“Passage of the smoke-free law was a major milestone for public health in North Carolina,”said Mecklenburg County Health Director, Dr. Marcus Plescia.

According to a report published in December 2013 by the NC Department of Health And Human Services, the smoke-free law has been part of statewide health turnaround over the five years, including:

  • Improving air quality in restaurants and bars by 89%
  • Reducing emergency room visits for heart attacks by 21%
  • Reducing risk of emergency room visits for asthma attack by 7%
  • Contributing to decrease in smoking rates by middle and high school students
  • Increasing calls to the statewide smoking cessation line, 1-800-QUIT-NOW

This report and other information about the law can be found here.

As Chief of the Chronic Disease Section at the North Carolina Division of Public Health from 2003-2009, Dr. Plescia helped lead the efforts for smoke-free worksites.

“At the time, our political leaders were committed to improving public health and understood the substantial impact this law would have,”said Dr. Plescia. “Passage of the law signifies a major change in social norms in a state with historical economic ties to tobacco.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Cutting the rate of tobacco use is the single most effective intervention in reducing chronic illnesses such as heart disease, stroke, and many types of cancer.

To keep the momentum going, the Mecklenburg Board of County Commissioners recently approved a Board of Health Rule and County Ordinance that also makes County parks tobacco-free and County buildings and grounds smoke-free.

The ordinance becomes effective March 18, 2015. More information on these efforts is available on the Tobacco Free Mecklenburg Web page  or by contacting Kim Bayha, Tobacco Prevention Coordinator, Mecklenburg County Health Department at 704-614-7805.