Archive for Thursday, September 6, 2001

Where there’s smoke …

Results from survey show fewer businesses are allowing their customers and employees to light up

September 6, 2001

Jasmin owner J. Ramirez doesn't allow smoking in his restaurant, and according to a recent survey by the Douglas County Community Health Improvement Project (CHIP), Ramirez isn't alone.

Results from the telephone survey indicate that 42 percent of restaurants were smoke free, and 80 percent of businesses are, too.

"Some people complain, especially those in the older ages," Ramirez said. "Most people don't like that."

Although CHIP coordinator Susan Baker Anderson said she didn't know what to expect from the survey, one of the most pleasing aspects of the survey showed quite a few restaurants making changes from the traditional smoking and nonsmoking sections.

"A significant number said they had chosen to go smoke free, and we're pleased with that," she said.

Moreover, the smoke-free restaurants reported banning smoking didn't affect business negatively, and 33 percent said the policy provided a better environment for customers.

The number of respondents surprised her most. The survey's response rate of 79 percent surpasses the average survey response rate of 40 percent.

"People were really interested and really willing to share with us," Anderson said. "We were really pleased."

CHIP interviewed all Douglas County businesses with more than 100 employees and about 400 small businesses chosen at random.

The area in which Anderson most anticipated results were businesses governed by an ordinance specifying which businesses can and can't allow smoking.

"That's why there's such a difference between the restaurants and the other businesses," she said.

Although the ordinance is somewhat complex, she said, some businesses excluded from the ordinance are bars, restaurants and bowling alleys.

"The businesses that are governed by the ordinance still have the opportunity to allow their employees to smoke," Anderson said.

She wondered whether such businesses applied the same rules to employees as customers.

"We had about 80 percent that didn't allow smoking inside with employees," she said. A few businesses, 3 percent of those surveyed, allowed employees and customers to smoke anywhere in the facility, while 17 percent had a designated indoor smoking area.

Anderson said CHIP had a public opinion survey about smoking in public places in the works for this month.

"We'll use both of those to see how we can best reduce tobacco use in the county," she said. "Second-hand smoke is not healthy."

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