Americans for Nonsmokers' Rights Celebrates 30 Years of Advocacy
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 1, 2006
CONTACT: Cynthia Hallett
510-841-3045

Americans for Nonsmokers' Rights Celebrates 30 Years of Advocacy
Milestones and Plans for the Future

Berkeley, CA - March 1, 2006 marks the 30th Anniversary of Americans for Nonsmokers' Rights (ANR), a national member-based lobbying organization, which advocates for the right of all nonsmokers to breathe smokefree air (www.no-smoke.org). Over the past 30 years, ANR has helped to shape the way people think about smoking indoors - educating the public and policy makers around the globe to the fact that secondhand smoke is not simply a nuisance, but is a serious health hazard.

During the 1970's smoking was allowed just about everywhere - in workplaces, restaurants, grocery stores, on airplanes, in movie theaters, and even in doctor's offices. It was revolutionary when a small group of individuals came together to demand their right to a nonsmoking section. "When we started in 1976, we didn't have the science to prove that secondhand smoke was killing nonsmokers. But we were pretty sure that if tobacco smoke was killing smokers, then it couldn't be healthy for nonsmokers either, and we felt it was about time we stood up for our right to breathe smokefree air," said Pete Hanauer, founding ANR Board Member and current staff member.

The instincts of those early nonsmokers' rights advocates have been amply verified. Since the 1980's, hundreds of studies documenting the serious health effects of secondhand smoke have been published. Most recently, the 2005 California EPA report reaffirmed that secondhand smoke can cause heart disease in nonsmokers, and also found a link to breast cancer in younger, pre-menopausal women.

When ANR began promoting legislation to restrict smoking in workplaces and public places, it was content to settle for creating smoking and nonsmoking sections, but when the 1986 Surgeon General's Report on Passive Smoking reported that the simple separation of smokers and nonsmokers was not sufficient to protect nonsmokers from the hazards of secondhand smoke, ANR shifted it's policy goal to seeking 100% smokefree environments. In the late 1980's, ANR also played a pivotal role in legislation that eliminated smoking on airplanes.

"I'm proud to be associated with an organization that has always been at the cutting-edge of smokefree advocacy. It is a challenge when you take on an opponent as large and well-funded as the tobacco industry, but the work is incredibly rewarding - knowing that we can save lives by simply passing 100% smokefree laws," said Cynthia Hallett, ANR Executive Director. "It's shameful that an industry that spent 50 years deceiving the public about its deadly product is still hiding behind a smokescreen of front groups to hide its opposition to smokefree laws in the United States and abroad."

ANR and its sister organization, the American Nonsmokers' Rights Foundation (ANR Foundation) track and analyze the trend in laws providing for smokefree air. According to the ANR Foundation's Local Tobacco Control Ordinance Database©, 3000 communities have enacted tobacco-related ordinances, of which 440 are 100% smokefree workplace, restaurant, and/or bar laws. In addition 16 states covering 6010 communities have a 100% smokefree law covering workplaces, restaurants, and/or bars, protecting nearly 40% of the US population. The number of local and state laws is increasing rapidly as the successes of smokefree laws in other jurisdictions are reported (see updated ordinance lists and maps at www.no-smoke.org). In April, the percentage of the population protected from exposure to secondhand smoke will increase to more than 42% when the state of New Jersey implements its smokefree law.

Despite the incredible strides that have been made toward smokefree air, many states and communities have still not acted to protect nonsmokers from the known health hazards of secondhand smoke. "It is frustrating that 30 years after this movement started, some are still debating whether people should have the right to breathe air free of tobacco smoke in indoor workplaces and public places," said Hallett. ANR will continue to work toward smokefree air for all workers and individuals across the U.S. and around the globe.

March 1st also marks the implementation of smokefree laws in Indianapolis, Indiana and the country of Uruguay, the first in South America to implement a 100% smokefree workplace, restaurant, and bar regulation.

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California Group Against Smoking Pollution (GASP) was incorporated on March 1, 1976. California GASP was renamed Californians for Nonsmokers' Rights in 1981 and then Americans for Nonsmokers' Rights in 1988.

Americans for Nonsmokers' Rights is a national, member-based, not-for-profit organization dedicated to helping nonsmokers breathe smokefree air in enclosed public places and workplaces.