In March 2006, the city of Calabasas, California, enacted perhaps the most draconian smoking ban in all the United States. The affluent Los Angeles County community prohibits smoking in virtually all public places, including sidewalks and public parks, and in rental housing. Calabasas residents face a $250 fine for "allowing, aiding or abetting illegal smoking." The only places citizens are still allowed to light up are in private residences and "designated smoking areas" — city-approved locations that are "a reasonable distance from non-smokers."
While St. Louisans await January 2011, when two sweeping local bans take effect, national smoke-free advocates say our restrictions are lacking — and not merely in comparison to Calabasas.
Here are a few statistics to put things in perspective, courtesy of Americans for Nonsmokers' Rights:
• As of January 2010, 71 percent of the U.S. population lives under some type of smoke-free law.
• 41 percent of Americans live under a ban that applies to all workplaces, restaurants and bars.
• All but 17 of the 60 most populous U.S. cities have banned smoking in bars and restaurants.
• 25 states have outlawed smoking in all restaurants and bars.
• 29 nations — including famed tobacco producer Turkey — have enacted some sort of smoke-free law. Sixteen of those countries include all restaurants and bars in their ban.
• 38 U.S. states prohibit smoking at correctional facilities. Thirteen of those have banned smoking both indoors and outdoors. (Missouri's inmates are still allowed tobacco.)
• 8 states forbid smoking at casinos and racetracks. (Missouri is not among them.)
• 92 municipalities have banned smoking on the beach.
• 45 municipalities — including St. Louis — prohibit smoking at the zoo.Click here to return to the feature story.