An initiative to create a statewide smoking ban in Arizona was filed Wednesday, calling for the elimination of smoking from all bars and restaurants by May 2007.
About 123,000 valid signatures are needed by July to put the ban before voters in November 2006.
Ten other states already have similar widespread bans, starting with California more than a decade ago.
So initiative supporters say there’s plenty of evidence that smoking bans can be effective without hurting tourism or businesses.
"All the studies I’ve seen say that people aren’t making their decisions about where to go to eat or where to hold conferences based on whether
they can smoke or not," said initiative campaign chairman Bill Pfeifer, who also is president and CEO of the Arizona chapter of the American Lung Association.
The lung association, American Cancer Society, American Heart Association and Arizona Hospital and Healthcare Association are leading the campaign.
Organizers hope to raise $2 million for a media campaign, anticipating tobacco companies and other special interests will put up a fight.
The state Department of Health Services would enforce the ban, which would be funded by raising cigarette taxes 2 cents a pack. The increase would raise more than $3 million a year, which Pfeifer said would be plenty to hire enforcement agents.
Proposed smoking ban
First violation: Warning
Second violation: $100 to $500 fine
Additional violations: Businesses that keep ignoring the law could be fined up to $5,000
Exceptions: Private residences not licensed for day care; up to 50 percent of rooms in a hotel; outdoor patios; tobacco shops with separate smoking areas; private veteran and fraternal clubs; and American Indian religious ceremonies