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78 Percent of Philadelphians Favor New Smoke-Free Workplace Law

Law As Popular As Phillies, Cheese Steaks and Rocky Balboa
May 02, 2007

Washington, DC — By a margin of 78 percent to 20 percent, Philadelphia voters overwhelmingly support the city’s new smoke-free workplace law, according to a new poll released today by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. This support comes from a broad cross-section of voters, including large majorities of men and women, young and old, and voters in all areas of Philadelphia. Click here to view an electronic press kit with a summary of poll results and color slides can be found.

The poll also found that the smoke-free law has reached a level of popularity at or near other Philadelphia favorites such as the Phillies and Eagles, Donovan McNabb, Rocky Balboa, cheese steaks and Tastykakes. In fact, the percentage of voters saying they strongly favor the smoke-free law, 63 percent, significantly exceeds those who strongly favor these other Philly icons.

“This poll shows how much Philadelphians like working, living and playing in a smoke-free city,” said William V. Corr, Executive Director of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. “Philadelphians have delivered a unified message: They are thrilled to be able to earn a living and go out to restaurants and bars without putting their health at risk. The law is working as intended to protect everyone’s right to breathe clean, smoke-free air.

“The Pennsylvania Legislature should follow Philadelphia’s lead and the will of the people by passing a strong statewide smoke-free law that protects all Pennsylvanians from secondhand smoke,” Corr added.

The new poll comes as Philadelphia nears the four-month anniversary of implementation of the smoke-free law that covers workplaces, including restaurants and most bars (the law was fully implemented on January 8, 2007). The Pennsylvania Legislature is considering statewide legislation, SB 246, that would make all Pennsylvania workplaces smoke-free.

“The most interesting finding in this survey is that the intensity level of support for the smoke-free law far surpasses that of the Philadelphia icons we tested,” said Jeff Plaut, partner at Global Strategy Group. “At 63 percent, the level of strong support for the smoke-free law tops all of the classic items tested, including cheese steaks, soft pretzels, Tastykakes and the Eagles.”

Key poll findings include:

• Support for the smoke-free law is strong across the city, including 75 percent of voters in North Philly, 83 percent in South/Central Philly, 86 percent in the Northwest and West and 73 percent in the Northeast.

• With 78 percent overall support (and taking into account the poll’s margin of error of +/- 4.4 percent), the smoke-free law matches or nears the favorability levels of cheese steaks (82 percent favorable), Tastykakes (82 percent), the Eagles (81 percent) and the Phillies (78 percent). Favorability ratings for other Philly icons were 71 percent for Donovan McNabb and Rocky Balboa, 66 percent for the 76ers, 60 percent for Geno’s Steaks, 59 percent for Pat’s King of Steaks and 39 percent for Mayor John Street.

• Nearly nine out of ten voters (88 percent) believe that exposure to secondhand smoke is a serious or moderate health hazard and agree that all workers should be protected from exposure to secondhand smoke in the workplace.

• By a margin of 85 percent to 10 percent, voters believe that the right of customers and employees to breathe clean air in restaurants and bars is more important than the right of smokers to smoke inside these places.

• Nearly nine out of ten Philadelphia voters (87 percent) believe that restaurants and bars are healthier now that they are smoke-free, and 86 percent feel it is really nice to be able to enjoy restaurants and bars in the city without smelling like smoke at the end of the evening.

Philadelphia is part of the growing movement across the country and the world to protect everyone’s right to breathe clean air. In the U.S., 19 states, plus Washington, D.C. and Puerto Rico have passed strong smoke-free laws that include restaurants and bars. The states are Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Rhode Island, Utah, Vermont and Washington (the Montana and Utah laws extend to bars in 2009). Hundreds of cities and counties have also passed strong smoke-free laws.

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 4000 chemicals, including at least 69 carcinogens. The evidence is also clear that smoke-free laws protect health without harming business. As the U.S. 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.”

The survey of 501 registered voters throughout Philadelphia was conducted from April 26 to 29, 2007 by Global Strategy Group. The poll has a margin of error of +/- 4.4 percent.