Smoking cessation class offered

by Gina DeMent, Public Information Officer
Five County Mental Health Authority

Beginning at 12:00 a.m. on January 2, 2010, the new law in regards to smoking in restaurants and bars took effect.

The law states that smoking will not be allowed in enclosed areas of almost all restaurants and bars. The new law does not apply to certain cigar bars that are only open to people over the age of 21 and non-profit private clubs. Smoking may be permitted in unenclosed areas of restaurants, bars and lodging establishments. An area is considered to be enclosed if it has (1) a roof or other overhead covering and (2) walls or side coverings on all sides or on all sides but one. For example, a patio with a solid roof but no walls would be considered unenclosed. Local Health Departments, with assistance from the NC Department of Public Health, will be responsible for helping businesses take the steps needed to come into compliance with this new law.

Restaurants and bars will have “no smoking” signs posted so that patrons can be reminded of the law. All indoor ashtrays and other smoking receptacles should be removed. If someone is seen smoking, they will be asked to extinguish the cigarette, cigar or other item.

Eight out of ten North Carolina adults are non-smokers. Restaurant owners may be surprised at the new patrons that begin to visit their establishments due to the smoke-free law. It appears that for the majority of people interviewed, the general public supports the new law and understands the risks and dangers of exposure to second-hand smoke.

Both businesses and individuals can be fined for breaking the no smoking law. Businesses are subject to two warnings, then up to $200 in fines per violation. Customers who violate the NC smoking ban may be fined up to $50 per violation.

Smoking can be a hard habit to break, and if you don’t have the support you need to finally kick the habit, it can be almost impossible.

Luckily for smokers, there’s help out there – and now is the perfect time to act.

Five County Mental Health Authority is offering a free smoking cessation class called Freedom From Smoking® beginning February 1, 2010 in Granville County. Freedom From Smoking provides a supportive and structured approach to quitting smoking. Based on the latest research on addiction and behavior change, this medically sound program addresses the difficulties of quitting with a sensitive, encouraging style. The ultimate goal is to help individuals overcome their addiction and enjoy the benefits of better health.

If you are interested in attending this class or other upcoming classes, call Prevention Specialist Anne Williams at 252.430.3077 or toll-free at 1.877.619.3761 for more information.

In the mean time, you can call the NC Quitline at 1.800.QUIT.NOW for an on-line support program to get you started on your new tobacco-free lifestyle.