American Heart Association Unveils Smoke-Free Cities Policy To Protect Citizens From Dangers Of Secondhand Smoke
The American Heart Association
today announced that it will no longer hold conferences in cities without
smoke-free workplace laws as part of an ongoing campaign to reduce
cardiovascular diseases related to tobacco use. The Board of Directors
"The American Heart Association has long advocated for smoke-free
workplace ordinances at the state and local levels," said American Heart
Association Board Chairman Andrew B. Buroker. "We are equally committed to
protecting the health of our staff and volunteers by providing smoke-free
environments for Association-sponsored meetings and conferences."
Secondhand smoke kills an estimated 38,000 Americans annually, 35,000
of which are from heart disease. Thirty minutes of exposure to secondhand
smoke stiffens coronary arteries, slowing the flow of blood to the heart
muscle, making a person much more susceptible to a heart attack. The U.S.
Surgeon General confirmed that secondhand smoke exposure can increase a
nonsmoker's risk for heart disease by up to 30 percent.
The overwhelming evidence of the health consequences of secondhand
smoke exposure has prompted lawmakers to pass smoke-free workplace
legislation and as a result, 55 percent of the United States is now covered
by smoke-free laws.
"We can no longer excuse holding meetings in smoky localities that
could put staff, volunteers and visitors at risk for cardiovascular
diseases," said Buroker. "In order to save many lives, the American Heart
Association strongly believes that the nation's indoor public places should
be 100 percent smoke-free."
The policy goes into effect on May 1, 2007 for American Heart
Association conferences. It requires all meetings and conferences organized
or sponsored by the association to be held in communities that have enacted
smoke-free workplace laws by a state law or local ordinance. The
association's annual Scientific Sessions conference has an average
attendance of 30,000 and has been held in smoke-free cities for the past
two years. The 2007 conference will be held in Orlando, Florida, this fall.
The association's previous policy prohibited smoking at meetings,
conferences and office buildings.
The American Heart Association also advocates for cigarette excise tax
increases and comprehensive state tobacco control prevention and treatment
programs. On the federal level, it strongly supports the Family Smoking
Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, bipartisan legislation that would give
the Food and Drug Administration authority to regulate the manufacture,
sale, distribution, labeling and promotion of tobacco products. For more