Thousands of Federal Workers Now Protected from Secondhand Smoke Exposure

American Lung Association Calls Upon President Obama to Protect Entire Federal Workforce

(June 19, 2009)

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

Starting today, a federal smokefree workplace policy takes affect that will protect thousands of workers from the dangers posed by secondhand smoke. The American Lung Association applauds the Government Services Administration (GSA) for issuing this strong policy to ensure a safe and healthy work environment and urges them to ensure smokers have access to get the help they need to quit.

However, this policy will only apply to an estimated 30 percent of all federal buildings in the United States that are under GSA control. This potentially leaves thousands of federal workers still exposed to secondhand smoke while at work and at risk for developing diseases including lung cancer as a result. In order to protect all federal workers, the American Lung Association urges President Obama to issue an executive order making all federal workplaces smokefree.

In 2006, the U.S. Surgeon General released a report revealing that there is no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke and that secondhand smoke causes premature death and disease in those who are exposed to it. Twenty-five states and the District of Columbia have passed comprehensive smokefree workplace laws, protecting the public and workers from the dangers of secondhand smoke.  But many federal workers – including those living in otherwise smokefree states – are still exposed to secondhand smoke every day at work.