New Efforts to Reduce Smoking in Public Places

Apr 01, 2010

Since Washington's Smoking in Public Places Law took effect in 2005, the number of workers exposed to secondhand smoke has significantly declined: the Washington State Department of Health reports a 44% drop in Spokane County between 2005 and 2008. For people working in restaurants and bars the decline was 87% statewide for that same period.

Every worker in Washington State has the right to a smoke-free workplace. The Spokane Regional Health District is committed to protecting the health of all citizens in the County, including Spokane County's workforce. In March, SRHD began a new push to find, educate, and in some cases fine businesses that violate Washington's Smoking in Public Places Law. By adding a part time employee, SRHD expects to investigate an additional 40 complaints a month.

Under the law it is illegal to smoke inside any public building or place of employment. It is also illegal to smoke within 25 feet of entrances, exits, windows that open, and ventilation intakes that serve the enclosed area where smoking is prohibited. Businesses are also required to post signs which prohibit smoking.

To further decrease exposure to secondhand smoke, the Health District encourages the public to file a report. To report a business suspected of violating the Smoking in Public Places Law, call SRHD's complaint line at 232-1707. Callers will not be required to leave their name or phone number but that information can be helpful to investigators. All calls to the complaint line will be investigated within 30 days. Complaints can also be made online through the Health District's website at http://www.srhd.org/services/tobaccolaw.asp That link also provides more detailed information about the Smoking in Public Places Law.