Thanks to passage of smokefree workplace legislation in Arizona, Nevada, and Ohio, more than half of all Americans will soon be protected by law from passive tobacco smoke.

According to a California-based group called Americans for Nonsmokers Rights (ANR), that will mark the first time more than half the country is covered.

In addition to local residents, travelers will be prime beneficiaries -- especially since Las Vegas and Phoenix are already top vacation destinations, baseball spring training is expanding westward, and the 2008 Super Bowl is already scheduled for Phoenix next February.

According to ANR executive director Cynthia Hallett, the year just passed was a historic one for nonsmoking travelers. She noted that Westin and Marriott hotels went smokefree, along with the cities of Washington and Chicago, and more than 100 new local smokefree laws were passed.

In addition, the Surgeon General of the United States issued a landmark ruling that branded as unsafe all levels of exposure to passive tobacco smoke. That statement included the caveat that ventilation systems are not viable alternatives to 100 per cent protection of nonsmokers.

Despite that report, however, gambling interests in Atlantic City and Las Vegas remain opposed to casino smoking bans and 30 states started the new year without statewide smoking protections in place.

Americans who travel overseas may soon find skies friendly even at ground level: the European Union is considering smokefree workplace legislation that would cover all member countries.

Smoking has already been banned or limited in several foreign countries, including France, Ireland, and Israel.