The Utah Department of Health announced this week that "Smoke free Utah is starting now."
The agency is distributing postcards and letters bearing that message to private clubs, bars, private schools and other organizations impacted by changes in the Utah Indoor Clean Air Act.
Starting May 1, 2006 smoking will be prohibited in more public places in order to protect Utahns and visitors from secondhand smoke, a Class A carcinogen.
The 2006 Utah State Legislature passed Senate Bill 19, which strengthened the Utah Indoor Clean Air Act (UICCA) and eventually bans smoking in Class A, B, C, and D private clubs and taverns.
First, taverns and Class D private clubs that receive licenses after May 15, 2006 must be smoke free. As of January 2007, all Class A, B, and C private clubs will go smoke free as well.
Then, in January 2009, all taverns and Class D private clubs will become smoke free. (Class A includes country clubs; Class B, lodges and patriotic clubs; Class C, clubs where at least 50 percent of the business is made through the sale of food; and Class D, clubs where less than 50 percent of business is made by selling food.)
Many other organizations are also impacted by the law as of May 1.
Unlicensed day care providers. Now, both licensed and unlicensed day care providers must take steps to prevent smoking by employees, parents, or others where day care is taking place.
Private elementary and secondary schools. Smoking is now prohibited in both public and private schools. School administrators are being asked to notify employees and visitors of the smoke-free policy, which includes the grounds during both school hours and non-school hours.
Social, fraternal and religious organizations may no longer allow smoking inside buildings used for social or religious events.
All workplaces with no public access are now required to be smoke free. The former law allowed smoking areas for employees of selected businesses.
Facilities rented or leased for private functions, such as weddings, also have the responsibility to be smoke free and to inform patrons that all events on the premises are smoke free.
"The public health community is certainly pleased that the strengthened law protects more Utahns and visitors from the harmful effects of secondhand smoke," stated Georgina Nowak of the Southeastern Utah Health Department. "Every year more than 50,000 Americans die from secondhand smoke, many from heart disease and lung cancer. Adopting smoke-free policies is the most effective way that communities can reduce unhealthy and dangerous public environments, and studies show that business benefits as well."
Utah joins California, Colorado, Delaware, New York, Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Montana, Vermont, Washington, New Jersey, Puerto Rico, and Washington, D.C., in passing comprehensive smoke-free workplace legislation including restaurants and bars.
"Local health departments are working with proprietors of many local organizations to make sure they understand the law, and have the information and resources they need to comply," added Nowak.
For free resources and further information contact Georgina Nowak or Debbie Marvidikis in the Price office at 435-637-3671. Residents can also contact them by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com .
Additional resources are available on the Utah Department of Health's Tobacco Prevention and Control Web site at www.tobaccofreeutah.org.