PROVIDENCE, R.I. — Bars, restaurants and businesses became smoke-free early Tuesday, making Rhode Island the seventh state in the nation to ban puffing in most indoor public places.
Rhode Island joins California, Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Massachusetts and New York with a law on smoking.
The law covers thousands of bars and restaurants, and all indoor workplaces. But it extends the deadline to Oct. 1, 2006, for bars that have 10 or fewer employees and groups formed as private social organizations, such as the Veterans of Foreign Wars or Knights of Columbus.
Gambling centers Lincoln Park and Newport Grand, which are major state-revenue makers, are exempt from the ban.
Those facilities already have some smoke-free areas.
No-smoking advocates say attitudes have shifted in favor of outlawing smoking in indoor spaces, as people have learned about the health dangers of tobacco and secondhand smoke.
"It's an idea whose time has come in Rhode Island," said Robert Marshall of the state Health Department, which reported that an estimated 200 Rhode Islanders died annually from secondhand smoke.