Jan. 4 2008
Washington, D.C. — It is great news for global health that 2008 has started with accelerated efforts around the world to enact strong smoke-free air laws that protect all workers and the public from the serious health hazards of secondhand smoke. Already in 2008, Turkey’s parliament has passed a strong smoke-free law that will apply to enclosed public places, including restaurants, bars and teahouses; France has fully implemented its smoke-free law to include bars and cafes; and eight more German states have implemented smoke-free laws.
The global smoke-free movement is an appropriate response to the undeniable scientific evidence that secondhand smoke causes serious disease and premature death. It also shows that governments are taking seriously their legal obligations under the international tobacco control treaty, the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, which calls on the more than 150 ratifying countries to adopt effective smoke-free laws. Standards adopted by the treaty’s governing body in 2007 make it clear that only 100 percent smoke-free laws that apply to all indoor workplaces and public places meet the treaty’s requirements.
The new smoke-free laws in Turkey, France and Germany demonstrate the strong support for such laws even in countries where smoking has long been considered part of the culture. Increasingly, governments are recognizing that, to effectively protect the health of their citizens, they must take action against the serious health risks posed by tobacco use and exposure to secondhand smoke. Nations and regions that have implemented smoke-free laws have found that such laws are popular with the public, quickly improve health and do not harm business.
We urge all governments to enact 100 percent smoke-free laws that protect the health of their citizens.
Details on smoke-free laws around the world:
More information on secondhand smoke and smoke-free laws:
There is an urgent need for action to reduce tobacco use and exposure to secondhand smoke around the world. Unless current trends are reversed, tobacco use is projected to kill one billion people worldwide this century. Tobacco will claim five million lives worldwide this year, and that number is projected to double by 2020, with 70 percent of these deaths in developing nations. The International Labor Organization estimates that each year about 200,000 workers die because of exposure to secondhand smoke in the workplace. Public health experts have concluded that 300 million deaths from tobacco can be prevented in the next 50 years by cutting adult cigarette consumption in half worldwide.