Objective: To determine the number and protectiveness of local smoking regulations adopted before the implementation of a preemptive statewide smoking control bill.
Method: Review of local smoking control regulations from all 100 counties and 85 municipalities with populations greater than 5000 in North Carolina.
Main outcome measures: Adoption of local smoking control regulations before and during the 3-month delay in enactment of the preemptive bill. Protectiveness of regulations was based on restrictions on smoking and requirements for separate ventilation systems at private work sites: none (smoking unrestricted); minimal (smoking restricted to designated areas); partial (smoking restricted to designated areas served by separate ventilation systems); and complete (smoking prohibited). Because some regulations would be phased in gradually over the next 5 years, we evaluated the requirements that will be in effect by January 1, 2000.
Results: Between July 15 and October 15, 1993, the number of local smoking regulations in North Carolina increased from 16 to 105. By the year 2000, 59% of private employees still will not be guaranteed any protection from work site environmental tobacco smoke; 19% will have minimal protection, 22% will have partial protection, and none will have complete protection.
Conclusions: The 3-month delay in preemption created an unnatural time frame for communities to organize, debate, and adopt smoking restrictions. Despite the adoption of 89 new regulations, no private employees will be guaranteed complete protection from work site environmental tobacco smoke by the year 2000; new regulations can no longer be adopted. HB 957 has been a setback for public health in North Carolina.