Atlanta Delivers Huge Victory for Smoke-Free Air


July 01, 2019

WASHINGTON, DC – The Atlanta City Council today delivered a major victory for health by approving a comprehensive smoke-free law that protects the right of all Atlanta residents, workers and visitors to breathe clean air. Atlanta, which was one of the largest cities in the United States without a comprehensive smoke-free law, now joins the ranks of cities protecting everyone from the serious health hazards of secondhand smoke.

Service industry employees, in particular, won't be forced to choose between earning a paycheck and breathing smoke-free air. The new law will make all workplaces, restaurants, and bars – as well as Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport – entirely smoke-free. More than 80 percent of the largest U.S. airports are smoke-free, and Hartsfield-Jackson was the only airport among the top five busiest airports in the United States to allow smoking on its premises. The new law also includes e-cigarettes, providing protection from the harmful chemicals in e-cigarette aerosol and facilitating enforcement of the law.

The Council’s action adds Atlanta to the ever-growing list of countries, states and cities with a comprehensive smoke-free law. In the United States, 27 states, Washington, DC, and hundreds of cities currently have smoke-free laws that apply to all workplaces, restaurants and bars. Atlanta has set a particularly important example for states and cities in the South, which have lagged behind the rest of the nation in providing this important protection for health and suffer higher rates of smoking and related diseases.

We applaud Councilmember Matt Westmoreland, his colleagues on the Council, and the Smoke-Free Atlanta Coalition, which helped spearhead the effort, for their leadership and perseverance in working to improve the city’s health. Everyone deserves the right to breathe clean air, and the council’s action today will help make that a reality in the great city of Atlanta.

Secondhand smoke is a poisonous mixture of more than 7,000 chemicals, including hundreds that are toxic and at least 69 that cause cancer. According to the Surgeon General, secondhand smoke causes lung cancer, heart disease and stroke in non-smoking adults and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), low birth weight, respiratory problems, ear infections and more severe asthma in infants and children. 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. The evidence is also clear that smoke-free laws protect health without hurting business.