Dallas Sets Example For the Nation… | Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids
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Dallas Sets Example For the Nation By Protecting The Public’s Right to Breathe Smoke-Free Air

Statement of William V. Corr Executive Vice President, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids
January 22, 2003

Washington, D.C. — Thanks to the leadership of Dallas Mayor Laura Miller, the Dallas City Council today acted decisively to protect the public's right to breathe clean, smoke-free air by enacting a citywide smoke-free policy. The policy becomes effective March 1, and will cover all indoor public spaces except bars, pool halls and tobacco shops. This measure will improve health and save lives by reducing the exposure of workers and customers to the poisons in secondhand smoke. As a result, Dallas citizens will be able to earn a living and enjoy a meal with friends without being exposed to this serious health hazard.

Dallas' actions reflect the strong public support for the right to breathe clean air and growing public demand for protection from secondhand smoke. New York and Boston both approved smoke-free policies last month. In November's election, 71 percent of Florida voters supported a ban on smoking in restaurants and other indoor workplaces. Last May, Delaware became the second state after California to enact comprehensive protections, and numerous cities, towns and counties across the United States have done so as well. Cities that are currently considering such measures should quickly follow the lead of Dallas, New York and Boston and protect the rights of their citizens to breathe clean air.

City leaders did the right thing to improve public health. Secondhand smoke contains over 4,000 chemicals and 69 known carcinogens including formaldehyde, cyanide, arsenic, carbon monoxide, methane, benzene, and radioactive polonium 210. A recent study by the International Agency for Research on Cancer of the World Health Organization concluded, “Nonsmokers are exposed to the same carcinogens as active smokers. Even the typical levels of passive exposure have been shown to cause lung cancer' among people who have never smoked. In addition to lung cancer, secondhand smoke is proven to cause heart disease, emphysema, and other illnesses and is responsible nationally for thousands of deaths each year. Studies show that kids are especially vulnerable to other people's smoke, suffering more respiratory problems, ear infections, and asthma.

Smoke-free air laws are good for the economy and business. Despite the tobacco industry's false claims that these measures can hurt business, the facts show that smoke-free laws do no harm, and can even improve business. One comprehensive study of restaurant sales tax data from 81 localities in six states found consistently that ordinances restricting smoking in restaurants had no effect on revenues. In addition, such laws, where enacted, reduce health care costs attributable to treating illnesses caused by secondhand smoke. A 1994 federal study showed, for example, that a ban on smoking in public places would save $72 billion, lower insurance costs, and increase job productivity.

We commend Dallas' leaders for standing up for kids and against Big Tobacco.