Trenton, NJ 08625-0360
March 16, 2000
TRENTON - Health and Senior Services Commissioner Christine Grant today said she has requested to meet with leaders of the New Jersey Restaurant Association and owners of area restaurants to discuss the growing movement toward smoke-free eating establishments.
"I think the time is right to enter into a open, meaningful dialog and examination of this important public health issue," Grant said. "There is ample scientific evidence of adverse health effects associated with passive smoking. There is also information showing that restaurants that have gone smoke-free have not been adversely affected commercially and, in some cases, have benefited financially from the policy."
"I'm hopeful by meeting we will ensure that restaurant owners fully understand the adverse effects of secondhand smoke to both employees and patrons. Meeting will also give us the opportunity to hear restaurant owners' business concerns," Grant said.
According to the New Jersey Group Against Smoking Pollution (GASP), secondhand smoke causes 50,000 American deaths annually and poses serious health risks to exposed adults and children. Studies have shown that restaurant workers are exposed to more secondhand smoke than employees in any other profession.
The trend toward smoke-free restaurants in New Jersey and nationwide is being fostered by concerned restaurateurs voluntarily adopting such policies in deference to the 80 percent of Americans who do not smoke. Local governmental bodies that have enacted ordinances banning smoking in places of public accommodation, including restaurants, are also spurring on the trend. To date, five states have banned smoking in restaurants and more than 125 towns and counties in 18 states have passed smoke-free restaurant laws.
In New Jersey, more than 1,000 restaurants are now voluntarily smoke-free, not including large chain restaurants like Wendy's and Dunkin' Donuts that have gone smoke-free in all stores. Glassboro, Highland Park, Lawrence, Marlboro, Secaucus and South Brunswick prohibit or restrict smoking in a variety of sites including restaurants. Princeton Borough and Township are currently considering a similar measure.