American Lung Association Calls on President-Elect Obama to Protect Federal Workers by Making All Federal Worksites Smokefree

(November 6, 2008)

WASHINGTON, D.C., (November 6, 2008)— Each day, the simple act of going to work puts the health of thousands of federal government workers at risk. Despite an Executive Order issued in 1993, not all federal worksites are smokefree. This poses a significant health threat according to the Surgeon General who released a report in 2006 declaring that there is no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke.

Exposure to secondhand smoke not only is the direct cause of premature death and disease in children and adults, but also has immediate adverse affects on the cardiovascular system. The simple act of breathing secondhand smoke is a scientifically proven direct cause of coronary heart disease and lung cancer.

“It’s really unconscionable in 2008 to still find workplaces that expose workers to deadly secondhand smoke throughout the work day,” said Bernadette Toomey, President and CEO of the American Lung Association. “What’s even harder to fathom is that the federal government is one of these employers who knowingly puts their worker’s health at risk.”

Twenty-three states and the District of Columbia have passed comprehensive smokefree workplace laws protecting the public and workers from the dangers of secondhand smoke. Ironically, many federal workers, including those living in states with smokefree laws, are still exposed to secondhand smoke every day at work.

The American Lung Association is circulating a petition calling on President-Elect Obama to ensure that all federal workers around the country are not forced to breathe secondhand smoke while on the job. The petition can be found online here.

This immediate call to action directed at President-Elect Obama calls for the complete elimination of secondhand smoke in federal workplaces. While some federal workplaces separate smokers from nonsmokers, filter air or ventilate buildings, the Surgeon General has declared that these measures in no way offer sufficient protection.  

The American Lung Association is dedicated to protecting all workers from secondhand smoke through its Smokefree Air Challenge Campaign, which is a nationwide movement to eliminate exposure to secondhand smoke in all work and public places. Federal government workers along with all other workers including restaurant and bar employees deserve to earn a living while not being forced to breathe the toxic soup of 69 known carcinogens and thousands of chemicals secondhand smoke leaves behind.

This is an urgent public health matter and one that is of highest priority to the American Lung Association. To learn more about the larger Smokefree Air Challenge Campaign to protect the health of all Americans, visit www.lung.org

About the American Lung Association: Beginning our second century, the American Lung Association is the leading organization working to prevent lung disease and promote lung health. Lung disease death rates are currently increasing while other major causes of death are declining. The American Lung Association funds vital research on the causes of and treatments for lung disease. With the generous support of the public, the American Lung Association is “Improving life, one breath at a time.” For more information about the American Lung Association, a Charity Navigator Four Star Charity, or to support the work it does, call 1-800-LUNG-USA (1-800-586-4872) or log on to www.lung.org.