Bronson Frick (510) 932-1109 mobile
Cynthia Hallett (510) 717-4302 mobile
BERKELEY, CA: Today is an historic day for the nonsmokers' rights movement. The Surgeon General's Report on The Health Consequences of Involuntary Exposure to Tobacco Smoke was released today at a press conference in Washington, DC, which confirms the serious health effects of secondhand smoke exposure. The new report "has concluded that smokefree workplace policies are the only effective way to eliminate secondhand smoke exposure in the workplace. Separating smokers from nonsmokers, cleaning the air, and ventilating buildings cannot eliminate exposure."
"The health effects of secondhand smoke exposure are more pervasive than we previously thought," said Surgeon General Carmona, vice admiral of the U.S. Public Health Service. "The scientific evidence is now indisputable: secondhand smoke is not a mere annoyance. It is a serious health hazard that can lead to disease and premature death in children and nonsmoking adults."
The Surgeon General's Report further validates the need for cities and states across the country to enact legislation to protect nonsmokers. Americans for Nonsmokers' Rights (ANR) expects this landmark report to be a national "call to action" for communities to eliminate deadly secondhand smoke exposure.
"We are making progress, but still have a long way to go to ensure that all Americans have the right to breathe smokefree air in workplaces and public places," said Cynthia Hallett, Executive Director of ANR. "Service industry workers in venues like restaurants, bars, and casinos suffer the highest levels of exposure to secondhand smoke. Just as flight attendants and office workers deserve a smokefree workplace, so do workers in all industries."
Among its findings on the health effects of secondhand smoke exposure, the new report confirms that there are immediate cardiovascular effects from short-term exposure, there is no risk-free level of exposure to secondhand smoke, and that ventilation cannot eliminate exposure of nonsmokers to secondhand smoke, concluding that eliminating smoking in indoor spaces fully protects nonsmokers from exposure to secondhand smoke.
Additionally, the report finds that despite the progress in tobacco control, millions of adults and children remain exposed to secondhand smoke in the workplace and home. Across the country, only 44.5% of the U.S. population lives in a jurisdiction with smokefree workplaces, restaurants, or bars. Establishing smokefree workplaces is the only effective way to ensure that secondhand smoke exposure does not occur in the workplace, and that peer-reviewed studies show that smokefree laws do not have an adverse economic impact on the hospitality industry.
This report marks the 20th Anniversary of the landmark 1986 Surgeon General's Report on The Health Consequences of Involuntary Smoking (now known as Secondhand Smoke), which was the first time a major public health agency determined secondhand smoke to be a cause of death and disease in nonsmokers. ANR marked its 30th anniversary of protecting nonsmokers' rights on March 1, 2006. The Surgeon General's report documents some of our history in its report: Chapter 10, page 580:
"The first national organization to focus on the need for a local clean indoor air policy was ANR, which is still the recognized leader in the field. ANR has supported local efforts in a number of ways: providing technical assistance, training, and strategic guidance to local coalitions; keeping them informed of the latest policy trends and opposition tactics; linking a coalition with local coalitions in other parts of the country that were encountering similar experiences; developing best practices guidelines (ANR 2002); and disseminating model ordinances. ANR maintains a database of local ordinances and their provisions in order to track progress in eliminating unintended loopholes and addressing legal issues."
In conjunction with the 2006 Surgeon General's Report, Americans for Nonsmokers' Rights (ANR) is announcing the winners of the "ANR Smokefree Air Challenge Award" for 2005, which recognizes the states that passed the most strong 100% smokefree local laws.
"Local control and local smokefree workplace policy are the foundation of this national movement," said Cynthia Hallett, ANR Executive Director, "so we recognize those states working at the community level to protect people's right to breathe smokefree air in workplaces and indoor public places."
The winner for 2005 is West Virginia, who led the nation in 2005 with 17 counties enacting strong local smokefree laws. Ohio took second place with eight new smokefree laws, and third place was a tie between Indiana and Louisiana, with six new smokefree workplace laws each.
"The geographic diversity of states leading the smokefree movement is
significant. People have to breathe smokefree air everywhere."
So far in 2006, Illinois is leading the nation with 14 new smokefree cities, and many more on the way. Indiana is in second place with ten new smokefree laws enacted, and Alabama with three new smokefree laws.
Restaurants, bars, and most workplaces in Colorado will become smokefree July 1st. Hawaii and Louisiana lawmakers recently passed statewide smokefree workplace laws. Those laws are awaiting final approval by the respective governors.
Americans for Nonsmokers' Rights is a national, member-based, not-for-profit organization based in Berkeley, CA that is dedicated to protecting nonsmokers' from secondhand smoke and youth from tobacco addiction.
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ANR Foundation's lists and maps of smokefree communities and states can be found at:
Media note: Updated lists will be posted on Monday