Nebraska - smoking ban - started at midnight on World NO Tobacco Day..

June 2, 2009 - Nebraska - law banning smoking in all public places and businesses except tobacco-only retailers, facilities that do research on the health effects of smoking, private homes. and 20 percent of hotel rooms went into effect at midnight Sunday, May 31, 2009 - World NO Tobacco Day..

State health officials say it will improve the overall health of all Nebraskans. A Department of Health and Human Services study says 80 percent of Nebraskans favor the ban.

The smoking ban approved by the Legislature and signed by Gov. Dave Heineman in February 2008. (Nebraska is the only U.S. state with only one legislative chamber.)

Supporters say the statewide legislation could even make local ordinances more effective. "The Omaha ordinance is actually a lot stronger in a couple of places than the state law," said Mark Welsch of GASP, Group to Alleviate Smoking Pollution. "So those pieces that are stronger will stay in place. Those that are weaker will be superseded by the state law."

The law will be enforced by report only. To report a business that is not complying with the smoking ban, call 1-877-633-7331. Or you can also e-mail DHHS.

Last month, Gov. Dave Heineman signed a bill that would also exempt cigar bars, but it doesn’t go into effect until September. Some opponents think the most recent exemption is on shaky legal ground because it amounts to a special, unnecessary favor for cigar bars, one that conflicts with the reason for the ban: to promote public health. Attorney General Jon Bruning’s office has disagreed with that claim.

Related news brief: Nebraska's Smoke Free Law Goes into Effect June 1, 2009...

References: Butts Out Nebraska, The Smoking Ban's Here - Jason Volentine Reports,, 6/1/2009; Future of Nebraska smoking ban still hazy by NATE JENKINS, The Associated Press, 6/1/2009.