More than 4 out of 5 Workers Now Protected from Secondhand Smoke

American Lung Association calls on remaining 22 states to pass smokefree laws and protect workers from the harms of secondhand smoke

Statement of Harold P. Wimmer, National President and CEO of the American Lung Association, in response to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) study on "Changes in Self-Reported Smokefree Workplace Policy Coverage Among Employed Adults—United States, 2003 and 2010–2011" published today in the journal Nicotine & Tobacco Research:

"Today's report shows significant progress in the effort to protect Americans from the dangers of secondhand smoke. Overall, the number of U.S. workers covered by smokefree workplace policies increased from 77.7 percent to 82.8 percent. Twenty-one states saw a substantial increase in workers covered by smokefree policies. While great gains were seen in the food service industry and particularly among bartenders and wait staff, food service workers are still more likely to have a workplace without a smokefree policy.

"Over a decade ago, the U.S. Surgeon General found there is no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke. Secondhand smoke causes lung cancer, COPD, heart disease and worsens existing health conditions including asthma. Today's study shows that while substantial increases in smokefree workplaces have occurred over the past seven years, gaps still exist – leaving workers exposed to dangerous secondhand smoke just so they can put food on the table.

"Everyone deserves the chance to lead a healthy life, and that means having a safe work environment free from the health harms associated with secondhand smoke. While the Lung Association is proud that 28 states and the District of Columbia have passed comprehensive smokefree laws, we will continue our efforts to pass smokefree air laws in all 50 states because everyone deserves to breathe clean air."

For more information, contact:

Allison MacMunn
[email protected]

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