Local restaurants ban smoking in establishment

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, September 7, 2005

NATION – If you are a frequent patron of KFC, Taco Bell or Pizza Hut who enjoys smoking as you dine, you won’t be able to light one up the next time you visit.

All Yum! Brand Inc. company-owned establishments are going smoke-free.

KFC, Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, Long John Silver’s, and A&W All-American Foods are all under Yum! Brand Inc.’s umbrella.

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“Second-hand smoke is harmful,” Barry Riddle, policy coordinator for the Alabama Department of Public Health’s division of tobacco prevention and control. “Restaurants need to protect their employees and their patrons.”

According to Riddle, about 12 Alabama cities have gone smoke free in the past year.

“The argument that businesses lose money is not true,” Riddle said. “Studies show businesses either don’t change or they get better.”

He said the reason for better business when restaurants go smoke free is that there are “a lot more non-smokers than smokers.”

Some cities give business owners the option of being smoke-free or smoking, but they can’t be both.

“If they chose to be smoking no one under the age of 19 can work there unless they were employed before the restaurant was all smoking,” Riddle said.

“Kids don’t need to be exposed to second-hand smoke,” he said. “And it’s a mess to clean up.”

Riddle hopes cities would follow the non-smoking restaurants’ lead and would like to see local governments ban smoking from outdoor areas such as parks, sports fields and anywhere else children may be.

“Restaurants may have a change in customers, but they’ll have a healthier staff,” he said. “There will be less maintenance and less fire hazards.”