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Officials predict nationwide smoking bans

ATLANTA -- By 2020, every state may have bans on smoking in restaurants, bars and the workplace, federal health officials predicted yesterday, based on the current pace of adopting such laws.

The number of states with comprehensive indoor smoking bans went from zero in 2000 to 25 in 2010.

"It is by no means a foregone conclusion that we'll get there by 2020," said Dr. Tim McAfee, director of the CDC's Office on Smoking and Health. But the success of the ban movement has been astounding, and seems to be accelerating, he said.

Nearly half of U.S. residents are covered by comprehensive state or local indoor smoking bans, the CDC estimated, in a new report. Another 10 states have bans on smoking in workplaces, bars or restaurants, but not in all three venues.

Some other states have less restrictive laws, like requiring smoking areas with separate ventilation. Only seven states have no indoor smoking restrictions, although some of their cities do: Indiana, Kentucky, Mississippi, South Carolina, Texas, West Virginia and Wyoming.

Gary Nolan, director of a smokers' rights group, said he wouldn't be surprised if the CDC's prediction came true. "It's just a little bit more liberty slipping away at the hands of big government," said Nolan, of the Smoker's Club.

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