Maryland Legislature Can Set Example For the
Nation By Protecting The Public's Right to Breathe Smoke-Free
Air, Says TFK
- March 12 - The following is a statement of William V. Corr,
executive vice president, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids:
We urge the
Maryland House Health and Government Operations Committee to quickly
approve Del. Barbara Frush's proposed smoke-free workplace law,
HB 771. Eighty percent of Maryland citizens do not smoke, and
the Legislature should act decisively to protect their right to
breathe clean, smoke-free air. This measure will save lives by
reducing the exposure of workers and customers to the poisons
in secondhand smoke. As a result, Marylanders will be able to
earn a living and enjoy a meal with friends without being exposed
to this serious health hazard.
there is growing public demand for protection from secondhand
smoke. Dallas, New York City and Boston approved smoke-free policies
in recent months. In November's election, 71 percent of Florida
voters supported a ban on smoking in restaurants and other indoor
workplaces. Last May, Delaware became the second state after California
to enact comprehensive protections, and numerous cities, towns
and counties across the United States have done so as well. States
and cities that are currently considering such measures should
quickly follow the lead of Dallas, New York and Boston and protect
the rights of their citizens to breathe clean air.
There is an
overwhelming scientific consensus that exposure to secondhand
smoke causes disease, disability and death. Secondhand smoke contains
over 4,000 chemicals and 69 known carcinogens including formaldehyde,
cyanide, arsenic, carbon monoxide, methane, benzene, and radioactive
polonium 210. A recent study by the International Agency for Research
on Cancer of the World Health Organization concluded, "Nonsmokers
are exposed to the same carcinogens as active smokers. The study
found that even the typical levels of passive exposure have been
shown to cause lung cancer" among people who have never smoked.
In addition to lung cancer, secondhand smoke is proven to cause
heart disease, emphysema, and other illnesses and is responsible
nationally for thousands of deaths each year. Studies show that
kids are especially vulnerable to other people's smoke, suffering
more respiratory problems, ear infections, and asthma.
the benefits of smoke-free policies was shown last week in a study
measuring the effects of Delaware's new smoke-free law, which
is similar to HB771. The study, by Repace Associates, measured
pollutants in several public venues before and after the state's
new law took effect and showed that Delaware's new smoke-free
indoor workplace law dramatically reduced exposure to air pollutants
known to increase risk of cancer, respiratory disease, heart disease
air laws are also good for the economy and business. Despite the
tobacco industry's false claims that these measures can hurt business,
the facts show that smoke-free laws do no harm, and can even improve
business. One comprehensive study of restaurant sales tax data
from 81 localities in six states found consistently that ordinances
restricting smoking in restaurants had no effect on revenues.
In addition, such laws, where enacted, reduce health care costs
attributable to treating illnesses caused by secondhand smoke.
A 1994 federal study showed, for example, that a ban on smoking
in public places would save $72 billion, lower insurance costs,
and increase job productivity.
We urge Maryland's
leaders to act now to protect the rights of their citizens to
breathe clean, smoke-free air. The evidence is clear that such
policies improve health and save lives.
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