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Restaurant group goes smoke-free

By By MARY-ALLISON LANCASTER – Managing editor
Yum! Brands Inc. has announced that its company-owned establishments are going smoke free. The announcement cites the importance of customer and employee health and said the move is in response to the growing concern and heightened awareness of secondhand smoke, lung cancer illness and recent lung cancer deaths.
Yum! Brands Inc. includes restaurants such as KFC (Kentucky Fried Chicken), Pizza Hut, Taco Bell, Long John Silver's and A&W All-American Foods. The local companies owned by Yum! Brands Inc. in Brewton restaurants have already been smoke free or are going smoke free as a result of the movement.
Dr. Donald E. Williamson, state health officer, applauds no smoking policies in restaurants and elsewhere. "So far this year, a dozen cities in Alabama have increased protection from secondhand smoke for employees and the public, and much more work needs to done. It is refreshing to see more businesses are coming on board to join the effort for a smoke-free Alabama," he said.
The members of the Coalition for a healthier Escambia County, one of the top items on their agenda has been getting city officials to endorse a smoke free environment.
According to Tina Findley, a resident nurse at the Alabama Department of Public Health and Tobacco Prevention and Control Coordinator, Vestavia Hills, a suburb in Birmingham, went smoke free on Wednesday, Sept. 7 and Gardendale, a suburb in Huntsville is currently considering a choice ordinance.
Under a choice ordinance, Findley said, a restaurant "would not be able to hire anyone under 19 or serve anyone under 19."
Findley said that she had approached the city of Brewton nearly nine months ago and so far nothing has been done. Councilman Cary Barton said two weeks ago that he and his committee members, Frank Cotten and Ann Marie Sasser ,are ready to move into the next phase of adopting some type of ordinance that they would cater specifically to the city.
At the city council meeting on Tuesday night, Barton's committee still had no ordinance to present but reassured Findley and Harrell that "we are in the process of meeting this week and will be ready, hopefully, by next council meeting."
Findley said that the city was looking at ordinances from Huntsville, and she had provided model ordinances that she hoped they would adopt from Prattville and Montgomery.
Connie Devine, the store manager at the Brewton Pizza Hut said that their store "has been smoke free for a couple of months now."
Findley said that East Brewton was the first city they approached to go tobacco-free. It currently has a tobacco grant, but so far, the city has "absolutely done nothing" regarding adopting a citywide tobacco-free ordinance, Findley said.
Leaders of voluntary health organizations such as Alabama's cancer, heart and lung associations also have come out strongly in support of smoke-free policies.
Samantha Maddox, a manager at the Brewton KFC said that they received the notice last week and is now a smoke free facility.