One of the most effective ways to improve public health and protect communities from exposure to tobacco smoke is to ban smoking in public places. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, studies have shown that the benefits of smoke-free laws around the country include significant declines in hospital admissions for heart attack; reduced coronary disease; reduced public exposure to tobacco smoke; encouragement to smokers to quit; and either no effect or a positive effect on total restaurant and bar revenues. In the state of Hawaii, a 2008 study commissioned by the Hawaii State Department of Health showed that tourism and hospitality economic indicators were unaffected by the state’s smoke-free law one year after its enactment. Hawaii, like the CNMI, is heavily dependent on tourism, including tourism from Asian countries.
Indeed, public smoking bans have become a common trend, and have been implemented across the nation and around the world. As of 2010, as many as 36 states, plus the Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Guam, and the CNMI, and many other cities and municipalities in countries around the world, including Japan, China, Korea, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Australia, New Zealand, and the Philippines, have enacted smoke-free laws to protect public health.