Lung Association Applauds Gov. Cuomo for Signing Smokefree Hospitals Bill

New law will protect patients, employees and visitors from secondhand smoke

(August 1, 2013)

The American Lung Association of the Northeast applauded Governor Andrew Cuomo today for signing into law a bill that will prohibit smoking on and around hospital grounds and nursing homes throughout the state. The bipartisan legislation, which was strongly supported by the Lung Association, was sponsored by Assemblywoman Ellen Jaffee (D-Rockland) and Senator Jack Martins (R-Mineola).  It passed both houses of the Legislature in June.

"No one should be forced to walk through a toxic cloud of tobacco smoke in order to receive health care at their hospital or while visiting a loved one at a nursing home,” said Jeff Seyler, President & CEO at the American Lung Association of the Northeast. “That’s why the Lung Association led the effort to get this bill passed. The Surgeon General states there is no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke.  We applaud the Legislature for passing this important public health measure and are grateful to Governor Cuomo for signing it into law. “

Senator Jack Martins said, “The facts are clear--secondhand smoke kills. Health care facilities are the places we go to get treatment, heal and recover from serious illnesses.   They should not be the place where our health concerns start or are worsened.  Hospitals are also the places that should be setting the best example of positive health practices.  I want to thank the Governor for signing this important legislation into law. Ultimately, it will protect those living in, working at and visiting these facilities from exposure to the serious dangers of secondhand smoke.”

Assemblywoman Ellen Jaffee said, "We know that secondhand smoke is a killer. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has noted that there is no risk-free level of contact with secondhand smoke; even brief exposure can be harmful to health. Yet, how many times do we drive by a hospital or a nursing home and see staff and patients smoking right outside the door. This legislation will ensure that hospitals and nursing homes are smoke free and 100 percent dedicated to protecting the public’s health. I am thrilled the Governor has signed it into law."
The dangers of secondhand smoke are well documented. Secondhand smoke lingers in the air hours after cigarettes have been extinguished and can cause or exacerbate a wide range of adverse health effects. The smoke can trigger asthma episodes and can potentially increase the risk of heart attack.  Secondhand smoke exposure is responsible for 2,500 deaths in the state of New York annually.

According to the provisions of the bill, smoking will be prohibited on hospital campus grounds and within 15 feet of the property lines of hospitals and nursing homes. The Lung Association noted that New York City enacted similar legislation in 2009.  Additionally, more than 100 hospitals across the state have adopted voluntary policies prohibiting smoking on their grounds. This new law will standardize the policy and the enforcement mechanism and cover all hospitals in the state; it will take effect in 90 days.