As hospitality industry workers and the public enjoy the health benefits of smokefree air indoors, it is only natural for them to want to enjoy those same benefits in high density outdoor areas like restaurant patios since it is often not easy to move away from smoke when sitting at a table or working in that area.
In response to increased public demand and new scientific information on the health hazards in these close-quarter outdoor areas, many communities with smokefree indoor air laws are considering or have expanded smokefree protections to outdoor dining areas.
In 2005, the California Air Resources Board (ARB) released a report that evaluated the first-ever monitoring of the level of outdoor exposure to secondhand smoke on the health of California residents. Based on the conclusions of this report, the ARB adopted a regulatory amendment identifying secondhand smoke as a toxic air contaminant - an outdoor air pollutant that may cause or contribute to an increase in deaths or in serious illness, or which may pose a present or potential hazard to human health.
Scientific research on outdoor exposure to secondhand smoke is growing.
In May 2007, Stanford University researchers published
an in-depth study of outdoor secondhand smoke levels. The primary finding
is that secondhand smoke exposure levels can be significant near an active smoker.
In Santa Monica, CA, the Fresh Air Dining smokefree dining campaign encourages restaurants to voluntarily make their outdoor dining areas smokefree and publicizes those restaurants that make a smokefree commitment.
Numerous cities -- including Beverly Hills, CA; Hawaii County, HI, Alton, TX; Starkville, MS; and Hesston, KS -- have enacted smokefree outdoor dining protections as well as smokefree entryway provisions that help keep smoke from drifting indoors.