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Strictest US Anti-Smoking Ban Now in Effect in California Town

The strictest smoking ban in the U.S. recently took effect in Calabasas, California, a suburb of Los Angeles. The town's mayor says people do not have a right to smoke. The ban is part of a growing trend in the U.S. and Europe. As Amy Katz reports, it is trend that seems to be contributing to a drop in the number of smokers and in the consumption of cigarettes.

Calabasas is the latest of the more than 2,000 U.S. cities and counties to ban smoking, but its law is the toughest one yet -- prohibiting smoking in all public places -- indoors and outdoors.

Mayor Barry Groveman says people have a right to breathe clean air. "There is no right to smoke. There is a right to protect public safety."

Smoker Amanda Schwartz does not see it that way. "It is kind of unconstitutional, because people should have the right to do whatever they want as long as it is not affecting anybody else."

Advocates of smoking bans say secondhand smoke -- cigarette, cigar or pipe smoke that is inhaled unintentionally by non-smokers -- does have a harmful effect. It appears that the smoking bans are helping to prevent that.

In 2005, U.S. cigarette sales fell to a 55-year low. Health officials and advocates attribute the drop in large part to anti-smoking campaigns -- including no-smoking policies.

Dr. Stanton Glantz, of the Center for Tobacco Control Research, says "When you make workplaces, public places, restaurants and bars smoke free, people smoke less, they sell fewer cigarettes."

But do smoking bans really get people to quit smoking? The answer appears to be yes.

A number of studies show the bans discourage children from starting to smoke, reduce the number of cigarettes people smoke, prompt more people to quit smoking and increase the number of successful attempts to quit.

David Spalding smoked for 20 years, but stopped when his employer -- health insurer Blue Cross/ Blue Shield of Minnesota -- banned smoking in and around its offices. He says he would still be smoking if it were not for the company's strict policy. "I did not want to be driving off campus (away from his workplace) to have a cigarette in a car. It was that simple. And that was my catalyst."

Spalding is not alone, according to company Vice President Dr. Marc Manley. "When we started the policy, about 18 percent of our employees smoked. And a year after the policy had been in place, the smoking rate was 15 percent."

The trend to ban smoking has now spread to Europe. Ireland banned smoking in its legendary pubs two years ago and Britain is soon to follow suit. While the number of smokers is falling in highly developed countries, it is still on the rise in developing nations. Smoking is the second largest cause of death in the world -- killing about five million people a year.

A new study by the World Health Organization provides more evidence that people -- across the globe -- should try to stop smoking. It is the largest and longest international study ever done, to look at the consequences of cigarette smoking. It found that people who smoke are much more likely to die in middle age than people who have never smoked or people who have smoked and quit.