Jul. 12 2001
Washington, DC — This week, voters in Minot, North Dakota, upheld a city ordinance making restaurants smoke free by a margin of 55 to 45 percent. Minot becomes the latest in a growing number of communities across the country to enact an ordinance to protect its residents from the deadly poisons of secondhand smoke. These critical protections have been enacted despite the efforts of the tobacco industry to mislead voters into opposing them, indicating strong public support for such measures.
Other communities where voters recently have supported clean indoor air laws include:
Central Point, Oregon, where voters last September upheld the town's smoke free ordinance
Superior, Colorado, where voters last November approved a referendum creating smoke free spaces on patios and other defined outdoor eating venues
Montrose, Colorado, where voters last April approved a measure requiring smoke free restaurants
Neenah, Wisconsin, which passed an advisory referendum in support of smoke free restaurants last April
The dangers of secondhand smoke are well documented. It is responsible for 3,000 cancer deaths each year as well as 62,000 deaths from coronary artery disease. In addition, it is known to cause serious respiratory problems in children, such as greater severity of asthma attacks and lower respiratory infections.
Secondhand smoke contains over 4,000 chemicals and 43 carcinogens including formaldehyde, cyanide, arsenic, carbon monoxide, methane, benzene and radioactive polonium-210. Because the deadly poisons in secondhand smoke are unfiltered, they are up to 100 times higher than in smoke inhaled directly through cigarettes or cigars.
We expect the tobacco industry and their allies to continue to mobilize against smoke free policies by fiercely asserting phony claims that these measures will harm business and the economy. Their claims fly in the face of most independent evidence that indoor smoking bans have either no impact or even a positive impact on business. For example, studies of sales tax data from 81 localities in six states showed smoking restrictions in restaurants had absolutely no effect on revenues.
Americans strongly support clean indoor air laws. We are confident that the American public will continue to reject Big Tobacco's distortions and act to protect the public's health by improving the air we all breathe.