Posted at: 10/01/2012 6:08 PM
By: Brittany Lewis
Health Experts Celebrate Smoking Ban 5 Years Later
(ABC 6 NEWS) -- It's a milestone health experts are celebrating, Minnesota bars and restaurants have been smoke free for five years now.
"Health benefits have been shown all over the country and all over the world as smoke free ordinances have been put in to place," said Michael Burke.
And health officials say the same has proven to be true in Minnesota.
"The number of individuals that were smoking have decreased, the number of people that are exposed to second hand smoke has decreased and also medically induced death from heart attacks has increased," said Kari Etrheim of Olmsted County Public Health.
According to the Olmsted County Department of Health, since 2007, the year the ban was put in place, Minnesota's adult smokers have dropped 16.1% and nicotine exposure has gone down 83%.
"When they can't smoke every where they kind of look to themselves and go ya know what, now is a really good time for me to quit smoking," said Etrheim.
When the ban was first proposed, there was concern with how it might affect business. Bar owner Scott Schneider says he felt the impact.
"Initially when the smoke ordinance came into effect it really hurt happy hour," said Schneider.
But he said like anything in business, it's really just been about how you react to change.
"As a bar owner you adjusted whether it was less employees or higher prices," he said.
And he's seen both the positive, "not going home with smelly clothes or smoky clothes," and the negative, "a lot of customers went to their houses to their garage. I know a lot of people that went and created garage bars and they have their own little neighborhood parties in their garage now and you will not see those customers back, but on the other hand, maybe some new ones that might not have come before are now coming in," he said.
Health officials acknowledge there is still work to be done. Olmsted County says there are still 625,000 Minnesotans that smoke. They say their next step is making all apartments smoke free.