National Health Organizations Challenge Mayors To Protect Public Health; Strong Clean Indoor Air Laws Needed
WASHINGTON, Jan. 23 /U.S. Newswire/ -- The SmokeLess States National Tobacco Policy Initiative and a group of leading national
health organizations today challenged mayors and other municipal leaders to enact strong clean indoor air laws to protect the
The groups cited the importance of local leadership on this issue. Hundreds of communities throughout the Untied States already live with full protections from secondhand smoke because of collaborative efforts by mayors and community members to enact
strong clean indoor air laws. More than 70 percent of California's communities had laws in place before the state law went into effect in 1994.
"Today we recognize mayors who have strengthened local clean indoor air laws -- and challenge others to work with local coalitions -- to protect people from secondhand smoke," said Ronald Davis, M.D., member of the American Medical Association Board of Trustees. "These mayors worked to pass meaningful laws, ones that
eliminate the public's exposure to secondhand smoke in workplaces and other indoor public areas."
Dozens of mayors, chief executives and legislative assemblies in localities across the country, including Dallas, Texas, Denver, Colorado and Cedar Rapids, Iowa are strengthening local clean
indoor air laws to increase protections against secondhand smoke and improve working conditions, making public places safer for all.
Strong local laws may extend smoke-free policies to public places, restaurants, bars and other establishments.
"These officials understand that clean indoor air quality is no less important than clean food and water in restaurants, and that creating healthy, indoor spaces for the public and for employees is
good for public health and good for business, too," said Thomas Houston, M.D., Co-director, SmokeLess States National Tobacco Policy Initiative. No safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke has been established within the health community.
Secondhand smoke is the third leading cause of preventable death in America and kills as many as 65,000 people in the United States annually, according to the Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention. It contains more than 4,000 chemicals, including more than 40 carcinogens, and causes cancer, stroke, heart disease, sudden infant death syndrome, respiratory ailments and inner ear
infections in children. Among healthy non-smokers, exposure to secondhand smoke in the workplace causes lung disease, heart disease, chronic bronchitis and asthma in adults and causes
low-birth weight babies. Workers in restaurants and bars that allow smoking have a 20 to 30 percent higher incidence of cancer than workers in non-smoking establishments.
Participating in the national news conference along with SmokeLess States were mayors and representatives of several of the nation's leading healthcare organizations including:
-- American Cancer Society
-- American Heart Association
-- American Lung Association
-- American Medical Association
-- Americans for Nonsmokers' Rights Foundation
-- The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids
-- The Praxis Project
Despite claims of the tobacco industry and its allies that strong clean indoor air laws adversely affect restaurant revenues, several independent studies based upon impartial sales tax data show economic growth where comprehensive laws have been enacted.
For restaurant owners, smoke free policies can reduce operating costs, and increase productivity and revenue. Since California's clean indoor air law was passed five years ago, bar business has steadily increased; 75 percent of bar owners and employees now favor the clean indoor air law, and even 45 percent of smokers like it, according to a 2000 survey conducted for the California Department of Health Services by the Field Research Corporation.
"Elected officials in dozens of cities and counties around the country, including New York, Honolulu, Helena and Duluth, have recognized that the most important reason to support strong clean indoor air laws is to protect workers from secondhand smoke," said Makani Themba-Nixon, Executive Director of the Praxis Project.
"Workers in the hospitality and other industries should not have to risk their health for a paycheck," she said.
Stronger clean indoor air laws are gaining popularity throughout the U.S. Currently, more than 1,500 municipalities nationwide have laws that prohibit smoking in workplaces and/or restaurants. Support for strengthening local clean indoor air laws runs high among voters in most cities.
The nation's mayors were in Washington, D.C. to attend the U.S. Conference of Mayors Winter Meeting. SmokeLess States and its national partners have urged mayors nationwide to support local clean indoor air laws to protect the public health and to work with local coalitions and health experts.