South Dakota Becomes 24th State to Meet American Lung Association Smokefree Air Challenge by Passing Legislation Protecting All Workers from Secondhand Smoke

(March 19, 2009)

Washington, D.C. —Today, South Dakota residents have reason to celebrate. South Dakota is now officially the 24th state in the nation, and the first in 2009, to pass a comprehensive smokefree workplace law protecting virtually everyone from secondhand smoke in public places and workplaces.

The American Lung Association applauds Governor Rounds and South Dakota lawmakers for passing this important legislation that will save hundreds of lives in the next decade alone.

Secondhand smoke kills close to 50,000 Americans annually, according to the U.S. Surgeon, and is the cause of a host of diseases and ailments, including lung cancer, heart disease, SIDS and childhood ear infections.

“Today, more than ever, preventing chronic illnesses such as lung disease are vital as we work to rebuild our nation’s economy,” said Charles D. Connor, President and CEO of the American Lung Association. “The leadership shown by Governor Rounds’ and the bipartisan majority that voted for approval in the legislature should serve as an example to other states where workers are still not protected from deadly secondhand smoke.  Smokefree air laws are needed to protect public health in addition to combating the economic chokehold tobacco-caused illnesses have on states’ shrinking budgets.”

In its January State of Tobacco Control report, the American Lung Association gave South Dakota poor marks in each of the four categories it assigns grades to, including an “F” for failing to protect workers in restaurants, bars and gaming facilities from secondhand smoke. According to the report, smoking-related illnesses cost the state $500 million annually and kill more than 1,000 South Dakota residents each year.

Elected officials in states like Michigan, North Carolina, Texas and Wisconsin are now considering smokefree air laws. The American Lung Association urges these lawmakers to summon the political will to act quickly and decisively on behalf of the health of their constituents. Secondhand smoke kills. Strong smokefree air laws are the best and only effective measure to prevent death and disease caused by secondhand smoke in public places and workplaces.

The American Lung Association is dedicated to protecting all workers from secondhand smoke through its Smokefree Air Challenge, which is a nationwide movement to eliminate exposure to secondhand smoke in all work and public places. For more information or to get involved, go to www.lung.org/smokefree.

About the American Lung Association: Now in its second century, the American Lung Association is the leading organization working to save lives by improving lung health and preventing lung disease. With your generous support, the American Lung Association is “Fighting for Air” through research, education and advocacy. For more information about the American Lung Association, a Charity Navigator Four Star Charity and holder of the Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Guide Seal, or to support the work it does, call 1-800-LUNG-USA (1-800-586-4872) or visit www.lung.org