Iowa & Kansas City, Missouri, Deliver Big Wins for Smoke-Free Air

Statement of William V. Corr, Executive Director, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids

Apr. 9 2008

Washington, D.C. — The Iowa Legislature and Kansas City, Missouri, voters on Tuesday delivered victories for health and the public's right to breathe clean air by enacting measures to make most workplaces, including restaurants and bars, smoke-free. Governor Chet Culver has indicated he will sign the Iowa legislation into law, making Iowa the 24th state to pass a strong smoke-free law that includes restaurants and bars. The law will take effect July 1.

Kansas City voters, by 52 to 48 percent, approved a ballot initiative requiring that workplaces, including restaurants and bars, be smoke-free beginning in two months. Kansas City voters rejected a deceptive campaign against the initiative that was funded almost entirely by the R.J. Reynolds tobacco company, which contributed more than $200,000 to the losing effort.

The Iowa and Kansas City victories add to the growing momentum across the country and around the world to protect all workers and the public from the serious health hazards of secondhand smoke. There is agreement among the public and elected officials alike that no one should have to put their health at risk in order to earn a paycheck or enjoy a night out. We urge Iowa and Kansas City to continue their progress by extending the new smoke-free laws to cover all areas of casinos as well. Casino employees deserve the same protections from secondhand smoke as all workers.

Iowa joins 23 other states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico in passing smoke-free laws that cover restaurants and bars. The states are Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Rhode Island, Utah, Vermont and Washington. A growing number of countries have also passed nationwide smoke-free laws, including Bermuda, Bhutan, France, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Lithuania, New Zealand, Norway, Panama, Sweden, Thailand, Turkey, the United Kingdom and Uruguay.

The need for protection from secondhand smoke in all workplaces and public places has never been clearer. In issuing a groundbreaking report on secondhand smoke in June 2006, U.S. Surgeon General Richard Carmona stated, "The debate is over. The science is clear: Secondhand smoke is not a mere annoyance, but a serious health hazard that causes premature death and disease in children and nonsmoking adults." Secondhand smoke contains more than 4,000 chemicals, including at least 69 carcinogens. The Surgeon General found that secondhand smoke is a proven cause of lung cancer, heart disease, serious respiratory illnesses such as bronchitis and asthma, low birth weight and sudden infant death syndrome. The Surgeon General also found that secondhand smoke is responsible for tens of thousands of deaths in the United States each year, there is no safe level of exposure, and only smoke-free laws provide effective protection from secondhand smoke.

The evidence is also clear that smoke-free laws protect health without harming business. As the Surgeon General concluded, "Evidence from peer-reviewed studies shows that smoke-free policies and regulations do not have an adverse impact on the hospitality industry."

It's time for every state and community to protect everyone's right to breathe clean air.

 

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