America’s #1 Tobacco-Producing State Takes Historic Step to Curb Secondhand Smoke

North Carolina Becomes First Tobacco Growing State to Prohibit Smoking in Restaurants and Bars

(May 19, 2009)

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

Like bell bottoms and pet rocks, smoking in public places and workplaces is quickly going the way of the dinosaur—simply another component of American culture near extinction. Today, America’s fast growing smokefree air trend reached the largest tobacco producing state in the nation. North Carolina has adopted a law prohibiting smoking in bars and restaurants.

The American Lung Association applauds this historic move made by North Carolina’s Governor Beverly Perdue and the state legislature. We celebrate this new law as a tremendous public health victory that finally opens the doorway to ending Big Tobacco’s chokehold on Southern states.

As smoking in America’s social centers becomes increasingly taboo, the American Lung Association sees the great strides in eliminating deadly exposure to secondhand smoke in public venues and worksites.

The evidence is rock solid. Secondhand smoke is responsible for close to 50,000 deaths each year. The Surgeon General has confirmed that there is no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke. No one should have to risk their health to earn a paycheck, including restaurant and bar employees.

While not all members of North Carolina’s workforce will be protected under this new law, each community will now have the ability to pass stronger smokefree air laws for their public places and workplaces, which until now has been barred under current state law.

With restaurants and bars now set to go smokefree in the home state of R.J. Reynolds and Lorillard, the American Lung Association can begin to look forward to the day when no one will have to suffer from exposure to secondhand smoke.