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Americans Want Stricter Smog Standards

A special message from Harold P. Wimmer, National President and CEO, American Lung Association

(September 16, 2015)

We asked voters across the country if they support stricter limits on the smog pollution they breathe. Their answer was an overwhelming YES! A staggering majority – 73 percent - of voters support the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) placing stricter limits on the amount of ozone pollution (also called smog) that power plants, oil refineries and other industrial facilities can release. Those are the results of data released September 9 from a nationwide survey conducted for the American Lung Association.

This resounding support for healthier air comes despite a multi-million dollar industry advertising campaign opposing stricter standards.  In fact, voter support for stricter smog standards is even stronger now than it was in a November 2014 poll. No matter how often and how loudly healthy air opponents “cry wolf” about stricter smog standards, Americans just aren’t buying it. They know less smog means better health for all of us.

Millions of Americans are breathing polluted air that leads to serious suffering, including asthma attacks, increased risk of respiratory infections, and even premature death.  That’s why American voters overwhelmingly support continued steps to protect our health from the dangers of smog pollution. Their enthusiasm for stronger ozone pollution standards has grown from 68 to 73 percent since our last poll in November 2014.  Support for tougher standards spanned across demographics, party lines, and geographic location.

When we bore deeper into the poll’s key findings, we see how strong the support is for the EPA to set stricter, healthier limits on smog:

  • Nearly 7 out of 10 voters want the EPA to update standards to limit air pollution.
  • A majority of registered voters-73 percent- across partisan lines support stricter limits on smog, including:
    • 90 percent of Democrats, 84 percent of Independents and 52 percent of Republicans, who favored stricter limits
    • Strong (more than 7 in 10 voters) support for stricter limits was found in every part of the country.
    • After the voters were given both sides of the argument, support for stricter limits remained strong (with 66 percent in favor of and 32 percent opposed to updating the standard).

The EPA is set to finalize the ozone standard on or before October 1, 2015.  That’s why we and other major medical and public health groups asked President Obama and EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy to follow the science and protect public health by adopting strong ozone standard. Americans want leaders who will see through a high dollar advertising blitz by polluters, and protect our health.

Opponents have spent millions of dollars attacking health-based ozone standards, but our poll shows that the public won’t be fooled by the polluters’ misleading rhetoric.  Support for the new standards remained high, by an overwhelming 2-1 margin, even after voters heard balanced messages from both sides of the issue, including messages from opponents predicting negative consequences in both energy costs and jobs. It is clear that voters believe we don’t have to choose between the health of our communities and the economy.

Want to learn more? You can see the poll and analysis on our website.  If you, like 73 percent of American voters, support less smog and healthier air, please send a message to President Obama expressing your support for stricter smog limits.  When you separate the scientific truth from the polluter’s fiction, it clear that we don’t have to choose between healthy communities and a healthy economy – we can have both.

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