By 2020 or sooner, the entire nation could have laws banning smoking in all indoor areas of private sector worksites, restaurants and bars, a study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has found. These places are major sources of secondhand smoke exposure.
The projection is based on the rate at which states have been adopting comprehensive smoke-free laws. In just the past 10 years, 25 states and the District of Columbia have enacted these laws, the CDC report said.
The study, published in this week’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, lists the smoke-free status of every state and the District of Columbia. In addition to listing the states with comprehensive smoke-free laws and years they went into effect, the report also lists the 10 states that have laws prohibiting smoking in one or two—but not all three—of the venues included in the study. It also identifies eight states that have less restrictive laws, such as those allowing smoking in designated areas or areas with separate ventilation. And the study details the seven states that have no statewide smoking restrictions in place for private worksites, restaurants or bars: Indiana, Kentucky, Mississippi, South Carolina, Texas, West Virginia, and Wyoming.
“Eliminating smoking from worksites, restaurants and bars is a low-cost, high-impact strategy that will protect nonsmokers and allow them to live healthier, longer, more productive lives while lowering health care costs associated with secondhand smoke,” said CDC director Thomas R. Frieden, M.D., M.P.H. “While there has been a lot of progress over the past decade, far too many Americans continue to be exposed to secondhand smoke at their workplaces, increasing their risk of cancer and heart attacks.”
Despite increased adoption of state and local smoke-free laws, approximately 88 million nonsmoking Americans aged 3 and older are still exposed to secondhand smoke each year. More than half of children over age 3 are exposed to secondhand smoke. The 2010 Surgeon General’s report makes clear that there is no safe level of exposure to tobacco smoke—including secondhand smoke—and that any exposure can lead to immediate damage to the body’s organs and DNA.
“Secondhand smoke is responsible for 46,000 heart disease deaths and 3,400 lung cancer deaths among nonsmokers each year,” said Ursula Bauer, Ph.D., M.P.H., director of CDC’s National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. “Completely prohibiting smoking in all public places and workplaces is the only way to fully protect nonsmokers from secondhand smoke exposure.”
For a list of states and the types of smoke-free laws in each, view the full report at http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr. Additional information on secondhand smoke exposure and smoke-free laws is available by accessing CDC’s State Tobacco Activities Tracking and Evaluation System at http://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/statesystem. Smokers can call 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669) or visit http://www.smokefree.gov for quitting assistance.