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Progress stalls in reducing dangerous secondhand smoke exposure

25 states still do not have comprehensive smoke-free state laws

Millions of Americans remain exposed to secondhand smoke and its proven health hazards, according to data released Dec. 6 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The report shows 58 million American nonsmokers still reported exposure to secondhand smoke from tobacco products in 2013-14—the same number as was reported between 2011-2012.

Additionally, disparities among various population groups persist. Children aged 3-11 years reported exposure rates of 37.8%, while teenagers reported exposure rates of 34%. Almost half (47.9%) of respondents living in poverty reported exposure to secondhand smoke.

Secondhand smoke can cause cancer, heart disease, stroke, and sudden infant death syndrome. There is no risk-free level of secondhand smoke exposure.

The following is a statement from Chris Hansen, president of the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN):

“It is unacceptable that one in every four nonsmokers in this country is still exposed to secondhand smoke. It’s clear more work needs to be done to protect people from this dangerous and proven health hazard. While progress has been made, particularly at the local level to reduce secondhand smoke exposure through comprehensive smoke-free laws prohibiting smoking in workplaces and public spaces, those efforts have slowed. Approximately 40 percent of Americans are not currently protected by a local or state smoke-free policy. While California closed a major loophole in its statewide law, no state has passed a comprehensive smoke-free law since 2012; meaning 25 states do not have comprehensive smoke-free state laws that protect nonsmokers from the cancer-causing chemicals in tobacco smoke.

“It is encouraging that the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development recently put a comprehensive smoke-free policy in place for its rent-assisted housing units nationwide. That effort could make a substantial impact on secondhand smoke exposure rates moving forward if effectively implemented in coordination with local housing agency partners, but it is not enough.

“The data released today should serve as renewed impetus for states and local governments to step up and eliminate secondhand smoke exposure in all workplaces, including restaurants, bars, and casinos. ACS CAN volunteers will continue to advocate for smoke-free laws that protect nonsmokers and smokers alike in their place of work and other public spaces.”




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