207770 Building the case for comprehensive, 100% smokefree laws

Wednesday, November 11, 2009: 11:42 AM

Cynthia Hallett, MPH , Executive Director, Americans for Nonsmokers' Rights, American Nonsmokers' Rights Foundation, Berkeley, CA
The science on the health effects of secondhand smoke (SHS) on nonsmokers was nonexistent when the nonsmokers' rights movement began in the 1970's. Despite this dearth of information, the movement began taking incremental steps toward what is now considered to be the norm – 100% smokefree environments in all workplaces at all times.

This fledgling movement created a new opportunity for the research community to begin documenting the health impact of SHS exposure and the benefits of smokefree laws, which helped to inform the public about the dangers of SHS and further shaped policy advocacy goals. New research clearly demonstrates the immediate benefit of comprehensive, 100% smokefree laws on public health. Over a dozen studies from diverse cities, states, and countries show an immediate reduction in Acute Myocardial Infarctions ranging from 14% to 39%. Longer term studies from Pueblo, CO and Bowling Green, OH demonstrate these benefits are sustained and increase over time. This research also illustrates that weaker laws do not provide the same public health benefit. A newer body of research on “thirdhand smoke” illustrates additional hazards of SHS as it off-gases over time, providing more validity that weak laws that exempt some businesses, including hospitality venues, private clubs or casinos, do not protect public health.

This presentation will discuss the health benefits of smokefree laws, the consequences of weaker laws that allow for unnecessary exemptions which lead to ongoing exposure of secondhand and thirdhand smoke, and outline the trends toward comprehensive smokefree laws in the US and abroad.

Learning Objectives:
1) Articulate the findings of recent research on the immediate health benefits of smokefree laws on acute cardiac events. 2) Compare the consequences of weak laws and the benefits of 100% smokefree laws. 3) Describe national and international trends toward smokefree environments.

Keywords: Tobacco Policy, Chronic (CVD)

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have nearly 20 years of experience working on smokefree policy issues and currently direct an organization that is dedicated to educating public health professionals, the general public, and policy makers about the health effects of secondhand smoke and advocating for nonsmokers' right to breathe smokefree air.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.