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NIAGARA COUNTY ANTI-SMOKING POLICY ADVANCES

After two years of work and three revisions, the Niagara County Board of Health Thursday unanimously adopted an anti-smoking policy.

The policy still faces a public hearing and must receive approval from the County Legislature before it becomes law.

"This most recently revised plan does not meet every standard," Dr. Jean Wactawski-Wende, chairwoman of the board's Smoking Policy Committee, said, "but it does try to compromise on both sides."

However, she and Health Board President Linda H. Flessel qualified their acceptance of the revised policy, saying they would not support any further changes.

The board noted that Legislator Lee Simonson, R-Lewiston, who heads the Legislature's Health Services Committee, was a strong supporter of the anti-smoking plan. Under the plan originally proposed by the Board of Health, smoking would not have been permitted in any public place, but under the new revisions there are exceptions.

Under the latest version, restaurants with a bar area would be able to have smoking in the bar area as long as it is not designated as a waiting area. In all restaurants, smoking would be allowed in 30 percent of a dining area until Dec. 1, 1999, and then a total smoking ban would be in effect for those areas. Fully enclosed smoking rooms still would be permitted.

Bars and taverns, which are defined as places that do 60 percent of their business selling alcohol over the bar, could still permit smoking.

Bowling centers could permit smoking only during league bowling hours, defined as after 6 p.m., and smoking would be permitted only in the concourse area. There would be no smoking in the settee area and no smoking during open bowling hours.

Bingo halls on school property are already prohibited from allowing smoking by state law. Other bingo halls would have to have at least one-third of their total seating capacity smoke-free within 180 days after the rules go into effect.

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