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New Poll Shows Atlanta Voters Overwhelmingly Support Smoke-free Law

76 percent favor law that includes restaurants, bars and Hartsfield-Jackson to guarantee everyone the right to breathe clean air
October 18, 2017

Atlanta, GA – A new poll shows overwhelming support among Atlanta voters for a comprehensive smoke-free law that guarantees everyone the right to breathe clean air. Three-quarters of voters (76 percent) favor a law to prohibit smoking inside most public places – including workplaces, public buildings, offices, restaurants, bars and the Hartsfield-Jackson airport – including two-thirds of voters (67 percent) who strongly favor the proposed law.

Voters undeniably see secondhand smoke as a health hazard. Some 90 percent say it is a serious or moderate health hazard, including 75 percent who say it is a serious health hazard. The need for protection from secondhand smoke in all workplaces and public places has never been clearer.

  • Secondhand smoke contains more than 7,000 chemicals, including hundreds that are toxic and at least 69 that cause cancer.
  • The U.S. Surgeon General has found that secondhand smoke is a proven cause of lung cancer, heart disease, stroke, serious respiratory illnesses, low birth weight and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
  • The Surgeon General has 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.

“Voters know that secondhand smoke is a health hazard, and this poll shows that they want a strong law protecting their right to breathe clean air," said Andy Freeman, Georgia Government Relations Director, American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network. “While we safeguard our office workers from secondhand smoke, we still leave workers in bars, restaurants and our airport unprotected. We need to ensure that no workers are left behind when it comes to their health. The City Council should listen to the people of Atlanta and act quickly to make all workplaces smoke-free.”

“Secondhand smoke is harmful to everyone, and everyone should be protected from it,” said June Deen, Senior Vice President of Public Policy and Health Promotions, American Lung Association of the Southeast. “No waitress waiter or bartender should have to choose between health and a paycheck. These hospitality workers have the fewest workplace protections, and that needs to change. It is a matter of fairness – everyone should have the right to breathe clean air at work – period.”

“The link between secondhand smoke and cardiovascular disease is clear,” said Michael Cortes, Government Relations Director at the Metro Atlanta American Heart Association. “Over 22,000 premature deaths from heart and blood vessel disease are caused by other people's smoke each year. Exposure to secondhand smoke can increase the risk of heart disease and stroke by 20 to 30 percent.”

The citywide survey of 500 likely 2018 voters was conducted by Lake Research Partners (August 15-20) and released today by the Smoke-Free Atlanta Coalition.

Among the other poll findings:

  • 78 percent of voters think the right of customers and employees to breathe clean smoke-free air inside workplaces, restaurants, bars and the airport is more important than the rights of smokers to smoke and owners to allow smoking inside those places (11 percent).
  • Over a quarter of voters (27 percent) say they would go out to restaurants and bars more often than they do now if the city passes a law making all restaurants and bars smoke-free, and a large majority (65 percent) would go out about the same amount as they do now. Just 7 percent said they would go out less often.
  • There is broad and deep support for this proposed law, and a majority of voters across all demographic and political subgroups strongly favor this law – women and men; young and old; college- and non-college educated; Democrats, Republicans and Independents; white and African-American voters; differing income groups; and residents from all areas of the city.
  • Voters are also clear that if the city council passes a law that prohibits smoking in all workplaces and public places, then the airport should be included (64 percent strongly agree, 75 percent agree).

The Smoke-Free Atlanta Campaign aims to educate the public about the dangers of secondhand smoke and campaign for comprehensive smoke-free workplaces in Atlanta.

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Lake Research Partners designed and administered this survey that was conducted by professional interviewers from August 15-20, 2017.The survey reached a total of 500 likely 2018 voters in Atlanta, Georgia. Telephone numbers were drawn from a voter file sample. The margin of error for the sample is +/-4.4%.