HARTFORD – As Connecticut lawmakers continue to debate a proposal that would end the sale of flavored tobacco in the state, leading public health organizations are calling on the legislature to reject the current language, which is rife with dangerous loopholes.
Minnesota Is 25th State to Go Smoke-free
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- October 1, 2007 -- Minnesota's statewide smoke-free law takes effect today, meaning that half of the United States is now protected by a smoke-free policy. As the 25th smoke-free state, Minnesota's comprehensive legislation prohibits smoking in all restaurants, bars and casinos.
"That half of the United States is smoke-free is a testament to both the dedication of our grassroots army working across the country to advocate for workers' protection from secondhand smoke and the will of the public to support these lifesaving public policy measures," said Daniel E. Smith, president of the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN). "Just like the other 24 states and more than 2,600 communities that are smoke-free, Minnesota workers and patrons alike will now enjoy safe, smoke-free environments free from the deadly toxins in secondhand smoke. We hope that the progress made today will inspire the remaining communities and states to make enacting smoke-free legislation a priority."
As a percentage of the population, 59 percent of Americans now live under smoke-free laws at the state or local level. Most recently, New Hampshire went smoke-free September 17th. Minnesota's home cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul already enjoy a local smoke-free ordinance.
ACS CAN and its sister charitable organization, the American Cancer Society, are working state by state, conducting comprehensive lobbying, grassroots and media campaigns to make passage of strong smoke-free policies a priority.
The smoke-free trend has been accelerating in recent years. In 2002, just two states had passed smoke-free laws. In a mere five years, 25 states are now smoke-free and another three states will take effect in the next year and a half. The following is a summary of the different categories of smoke-free laws that have been enacted across the states. Nine states, along with Puerto Rico and Washington, D.C. have a statewide law in effect that requires all workplaces, restaurants and bars be 100% smoke-free; Arizona, Delaware, Hawaii, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Rhode Island and Washington state. Eight states; California, Colorado, Connecticut, Maine, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Mexico and Vermont have 100% smoke-free restaurants and bars. Florida, Louisiana, Montana, Nevada and Utah's workplaces and restaurants are 100% smoke-free, North Dakota and South Dakota's law covers 100% non-hospitality workplaces, and Idaho has smoke-free restaurants. Illinois and Maryland will become smoke-free in January and February of next year, respectively, and Oregon will follow suit in January 2009.
This year, the prestigious Institute of Medicine and the President's Cancer Panel, two independent, credible bodies, released reports recommending the continued passage of smoke-free laws at the local and state levels. The reports build on dozens of peer-reviewed independent studies on the benefits of smoke-free communities and the U.S. Surgeon General's landmark 2006 report which concluded there is no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke. The report also confirmed that smoke-free policies do not have an adverse impact on the hospitality industry. In fact, public support for smoke-free laws continues to grow across the nation. Zagat Survey® has consistently found that restaurant goers are more likely to dine out when restaurants are smoke-free. Last year the survey found that 89 percent of all Americans believe smoking should be eliminated in restaurants.
Smoking remains the leading preventable cause of death in the United States, with 30 percent of all cancer deaths caused by tobacco use. Moreover, secondhand smoke is a major health hazard, proven to cause lung cancer, heart disease and emphysema. With 4,000 chemicals and more than 60 carcinogens, including arsenic and polonium, secondhand smoke is responsible for 3,000 lung cancer deaths annually and another 35,000 to 45,000 deaths from heart disease in otherwise healthy non-smokers.
ACS CAN is the nonprofit, nonpartisan sister advocacy organization of the American Cancer Society, which is dedicated to eliminating cancer as a major health problem. ACS CAN works to encourage lawmakers, candidates and government officials to support laws and policies that will make cancer a top national priority. ACS CAN gives ordinary people extraordinary power to fight cancer. For more information, visit www.fightcancer.org.
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