Nov. 15 2012
WASHINGTON, DC – A report released today by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that the nation's largest cities have made enormous progress in implementing smoke-free laws that apply to all workplaces, including restaurants and bars, but there is still much work to do to protect everyone's right to breathe clean air.
The CDC reports that 30 of America's 50 largest cities are now covered by comprehensive state or local smoke-free laws, compared to just one – San Jose, CA – in 2000.
This progress is great news for our nation's health, but there is more work to do to protect all Americans from the lung cancer, heart disease and other serious illnesses caused by secondhand smoke. The CDC reports that 10 of the 20 cities without comprehensive smoke-free laws are located in the south, indicating the need to step up progress in that region. Additionally, 10 cities without such laws are located in states that prohibit local smoking restrictions from being stronger than state law. States with such preemptive laws should quickly repeal them, and every state and city should enact comprehensive smoke-free laws that apply to all workplaces, including restaurants and bars.
Smoke-free laws have spread rapidly across the United States – and around the world – because there is irrefutable evidence that secondhand smoke is a serious health hazard and there is growing public demand for elected officials to protect everyone's right to breathe clean, smoke-free air. The public strongly supports such laws, as confirmed by the 67-33 percent vote in North Dakota last week to approve the latest statewide smoke-free law.
Altogether, 30 states, Washington, DC, and Puerto Rico now have smoke-free laws that include all restaurants and bars. As smoke-free laws have swept the country, we've seen that they are easily implemented, achieve almost universal compliance and quickly improve air quality and health. The evidence is also clear that smoke-free laws protect health without hurting business, as confirmed by the U.S. Surgeon General and numerous studies.
There is simply no excuse for failing to enact such laws in every state and city. Secondhand smoke contains more than 7,000 chemicals, including hundreds that are toxic and at least 69 that cause cancer. According to the Surgeon General, secondhand smoke causes heart disease and lung cancer in nonsmoking adults and respiratory problems, sudden infant death syndrome, low birth weight, ear infections and more severe asthma attacks in infants and children.
No one should have to put their health at risk in order to earn a paycheck or enjoy a night out. It's time to make every state and city smoke-free.