Learning to Love the Ban by Elisabeth Rosenthal On Jan. 10, 2005. Italy enacted a law that banned smoking in public places like offices, restaurants, cafes and bars. Smokers declared?baste! ? they would never comply. Restaurant owners were certain business would suffer. And politicians worried that an essential pleasure of Italy would be lost. Nearly two years later the result is that people in Italy smoke a lot less and are exposed to far less secondhand smoke. In fact, the law has become very popular, with support for smoking bans increasing yearly among nonsmokers and smokers alike.
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Business in bars is up. A study in Turin found that the number of people brought to hospital emergency rooms after suffering heart attacks decreased after the ban (secondhand smoke could be a trigger), a finding that echoes studies in the United States. In the three months after the ban, demand for cigarettes dropped 8 per cent, Italian tobacco sales data indicate. Among young people ages 15 to 24 the drop was most pronounced: 23 per cent. In 2004, more than 26 per cent of the Italian population smoked. That dropped to 24. Per cent in 2006, although it is not clear how much of the drop can be attributed to the ban, since the numbers had been decreasing slightly anyway. Violations are enforced with fines of more than $250. The Italian law gives restaurants and bars the option of creating sealed and independently ventilated smoking rooms, but only a tiny number of them have taken that expensive step. Smoking is still permitted in outdoor seating areas. Ireland, New Zealand, Norway, Scotland and Uruguay have enacted total bans, as have Australia and Canada and many Jurisdictions of the United States. Economics By McCall
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