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Atlanta joins the list of cities that recognize everyone’s right to breathe clean air

A long-awaited and hard-fought victory for ACS CAN volunteers and staff

Today, Atlanta Mayor Keisha Bottoms signed into law the smoke-free ordinance passed by the Atlanta City Council last week. The law will take effect on Jan. 2, 2020, making restaurants, bars and Hartsfield-Jackson Airport smoke-free. 

ACS CAN will continue to work with the Mayor’s office and the City of Atlanta to effectively implement the law and ensure everyone’s right to breathe clean air is protected.

Read below for a recap of this successful campaign led by ACS CAN and the Smoke-free ATL coalition.

On July 1, the Atlanta City Council passed a smoke-free ordinance that will make workplaces, including restaurants, bars and Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport smoke-free. This successful campaign was spearheaded by ACS CAN as leaders of the Smoke-free ATL coalition. Staff and volunteers, both in Georgia and nationally, were joined by senior leadership, including ACS CAN and ACS CEO Gary Reedy and ACS Acting Chief Medical and Scientific Officer Len Lichtenfeld, MD, in garnering support for this important measure that will benefit the health of those who work and live in Atlanta.

The smoke-free ordinance was introduced earlier this year in Atlanta City Council in the effort to implement a strong local smoke-free law that protects workers, patrons, and visitors in Atlanta from the harms of secondhand smoke exposure. There is no risk-free level of exposure to secondhand smoke, which causes nearly 42,000 deaths each year in the U.S. 

According to U.S. Surgeon’s General, comprehensive smoke-free policies are the only effective method of fully protecting the public from dangerous secondhand smoke, and ACS CAN has been instrumental in advocating for comprehensive smoke-free policies in states and ordinances around the country. Now, Atlanta will join the list of cities that prioritize and recognize everyone’s right to breathe clean air.

This accomplishment comes after years of dedication and strategic work by ACS CAN advocates and volunteers who sent petitions to council members, attended committee hearings, and spread awareness of this important opportunity to improve the public health of this major city. 

The Smoke-free Atlanta campaign also received extensive support from public health leaders. Gary, as CEO of ACS CAN, vocalized his strong opinion that Atlanta – home to both the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and ACS’ Global Headquarters – should finally adopt a smoke-free ordinance. Last month he joined Dr. David Satcher, 16th Surgeon General of the United States, on WABE to discuss why Atlanta needed to adopt this important smoke-free measure. Dr. Len testified multiple times to educate the City Council on the dangers of secondhand smoke and the serious health risks associated with secondhand smoke exposure. Just a few weeks ago, three top former U.S. public health leaders wrote an op-ed in the Atlanta Journal Constitution calling on the City Council to pass the smoke-free ordinance.

This is a long-awaited and hard-fought accomplishment in ACS CAN’s ongoing work to reduce the burden of cancer through advocacy and public policy change, and one that was successful due to the skill and determination of the ACS CAN Georgia team, volunteers, and other partners. 


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