For many, coffee and cigarettes go together like peanut butter and jelly — only with a significantly higher rate of morbidity than the children's lunchtime favorite.

But in the interest of promoting public health and a healthier image, retail coffee giant Starbucks on Saturday banned smoking within 25 feet of entrances, where local law permits. The Seattle-based chain also banned electronic smokeless cigarettes at all locations.

Starbucks' new non-smoking policy took effect at all locations throughout the U.S. and Canada. In the U.S., many states and municipalities ban smoking in public areas. More than 81 percent of the American population resides in areas with some type of smoking ban, including bans on smoking in restaurants, bars, workplaces, or even outdoor areas, according to the American Nonsmokers' Rights Foundation.

In Dallas, smokers are prohibited from lighting up in all indoor and enclosed areas, and within 15 feet of any entrance to such an area. The perimeter of smoke-free air in Oakland, Calif. is 25 feet outside entrances and exits, windows, or enclosed areas, with an exemption for outside bars, for example.

Cynthia Hallett, executive director of American Nonsmokers' Rights group, told the media that Starbucks would be the first major retail chain to enforce an issue usually left to the state legislature. "Starbucks is the first chain to go smoke-free on its patios," she said.

Three years ago this month, Starbucks tested the concept in California by enacting a 25-foot nonsmoking perimeter beyond the 15-foot ban under state law, instituting an widening concentric circle of smoking disapproval.

Although the effect might have been unnecessarily redundant there in the Golden State, Hallett said many areas presently lack legal prohibitions against smoking near building entrances. "It's huge," she said. "What Starbucks is doing differently, by banning smoking outside and on the patio, is showing leadership."

Naturally, the smoking ban met opprobrium from some smokers, who voiced their disapproval on social media. "I am now boycotting Starbucks!!! They have banned smoking within 25ft of their entrance!!" one Twitter user writes.

However, many brand managers are quick to point out that wellness and health work for companies, and that appeasing a minority of cigarette smokers would be folly. Sean Cummings, who runs the boutique hotel International House in New Orleans, told the media his business adopted a similar smoking ban in 2006, two years before the state legislature even considered a ban.

"I can't speak for Starbucks, but considering our own motivation and commitment to go smoke-free, it seems there are only good intentions when you take that type of action."

The decision was a "no-brainer," he said.

The relationship between drinking coffee and smoking cigarettes is featured in the 2003 American film Coffee And Cigarettes, starring Bill Murray.

Published by Medicaldaily.com