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Study: Most Americans Don’t Allow Smoking in Homes, Cars

May 17, 2013

The vast majority of Americans require their homes and cars to be smoke-free, according to a new study published in the journal Preventing Chronic Disease, a publication of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The study, based on a 2009-2010 survey, found that 81 percent of U.S. adults report having smoke-free rules in their homes and 74 percent have such rules in their vehicles. The percentage of Americans with smoke-free homes has increased dramatically from 1992-1993, when only 43 percent had such rules.

Notably, the study found that the highest rates of smoke-free rules in homes and vehicles occurred in states with comprehensive smoke-free laws and other longstanding efforts to reduce tobacco use, such as California.

This study provides yet another reason why every state and community should adopt a smoke-free law that applies to all workplaces and public places, including restaurants and bars. In addition to protecting workers and customers in these settings from harmful secondhand smoke, there is growing evidence that such laws prompt the adoption of voluntary smoke-free rules in private settings as well.

These findings show that Americans want to enjoy the right to breathe clean air wherever they are.

Thirty states, Washington, DC and more than 720 cities currently have smoke-free laws that include restaurants and bars.

Additional study findings include:

  • 89 percent of non-smokers have smoke-free home rules, compared to 48 percent of smokers who do.
  • 85 percent of non-smokers have smoke-free vehicle rules; 27 percent of smokers do.
  • Secondhand smoke exposure among non-smokers in homes and vehicles was greatest among men, younger adults, non-Hispanic blacks and those with a lower level of education.
  • Many of the states with the lowest rates of smoke-free rules in homes and vehicles also have the highest rates of adult smoking.

The growing number of smoke-free places is great news for the nation’s health.

Secondhand smoke contains more than 7,000 chemicals, including hundreds that are toxic and at least 69 that cause cancer. According to the U.S. Surgeon General, secondhand smoke causes heart disease and lung cancer in non-smoking adults, and respiratory problems, sudden infant death syndrome, low birth weight, ear infections and more severe asthma attacks in infants and children. It is estimated to cause nearly 50,000 deaths in the U.S. each year.

There is much work left to do. The CDC estimates that about 88 million non-smoking American kids and adults are still exposed to secondhand smoke.