IOM Report Confirms Secondhand Smoke Causes Heart Attacks in Nonsmokers

Underscores Urgency of Lung Association’s Smokefree Air Challenge—All Public Spaces and Workplaces Must Become Smokefree to Fully Protect Public Health

WASHINGTON, D.C. (October 15, 2009)

Statement of Charles D. Connor, American Lung Association President and CEO:

A new report released by the prestigious Institute of Medicine (IOM), Secondhand Smoke Exposure and Cardiovascular Effects: Making Sense of the Evidence, confirms secondhand smoke exposure to be a significant cause of acute coronary events, including heart attacks, and that there is no safe level of exposure. The report also concluded that relatively brief exposure to secondhand smoke can cause acute coronary events.

The U.S. Surgeon General confirmed previously that nearly 50,000 Americans die each year from secondhand smoke exposure. It is also a known cause of other serious diseases and ailments, including lung cancer.

The American Lung Association is dedicated to protecting all workers from secondhand smoke through its Smokefree Air Challenge, which is a nationwide campaign to eliminate exposure to secondhand smoke in all work and public places. Half of all states in addition to the District of Columbia have met the Lung Association's Smokefree Air Challenge. These states have implemented comprehensive laws, which protect almost all workers from secondhand smoke exposure. Bars and restaurants in these states are also smokefree, which gives people with asthma and other lung diseases the freedom to dine and socialize wherever they choose.

With this powerful new evidence today from one of the most prestigious scientific bodies in the U.S., it is time for the remaining 25 states that have yet to enact smokefree air laws, to join the American Lung Association in our fight to save lives by improving lung health and preventing lung disease.

To learn more about the American Lung Association's Smokefree Air Challenge, please visit