R.I. Senate Passes Smoking Ban

May 3, 2004

The Rhode Island Senate on a 25-7 vote passed legislation that would ban smoking in nearly every public place in Rhode Island.

The Rhode Island Workers’ Safety Act of 2004 (2004 – S2029A), sponsored by Sen. V. Susan Sosnowski (D-Dist. 37), would ban smoking in restaurants, bars, malls, athletic fields, health care facilities, schools, public restrooms, public transit waiting areas and many other facilities.

“Everyone deserves to breathe clean air in the workplace,” said Senator Sosnowski, who has introduced similar legislation for the past three years. “This legislation can help improve the health and lives of many non-smokers who, because of their jobs, are exposed to dangerous secondhand smoke on a daily basis.”

If passed, the ban would take effect on March 1, 2005. It would exclude cigar clubs, smoking bars, and Lincoln Park and Newport Grand.
Organizations supporting the measure include the American Heart Association, as well as the American Lung and Cancer Associations, the AFL-CIO, Ocean State Action and the Campaign for a Healthy Rhode Island.

Secondhand smoke causes 38,000 deaths a year, according to the American Lung Association, and causes 3,000 deaths a year from lung cancer in non-smokers, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Connecticut, Maine, Vermont, New York, Florida, California, Delaware, Idaho and Utah each have some kind of smoking ban. Many Massachusetts towns have banned smoking in workplaces, and its legislature is considering a statewide ban that would take effect July 5.

The bill will now be sent to a House committee for its consideration. The House Labor Committee recently passed a similar bill (2004-H 8392) introduced by House Majority Leader Gordon D. Fox (D-Dist. 4).

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