History & Goals

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In the early 1970's, people around the United States began to talk about the annoyance and potential health hazards of secondhand smoke. The smoke gave some people headaches, made some cough and gag, and in the worst case scenario kept those with respiratory illnesses from entering smoke-filled establishments. These concerned citizens banded together to form local organizations called Group Against Smoking Pollution (GASP) that initially engaged in educational work and eventually began to seek legislation to limit smoking in public places. Several GASP organizations sprung up in California and in 1976 they combined their resources to create California Group Against Smoking Pollution.

A few years and a couple of local ordinances later, the organization sought to pass a statewide law by means of the initiative process. After two unsuccessful attempts, the organization went back to what it knew worked best - passing local ordinances - and in 1981 became Californians for Nonsmokers' Rights. As local successes and requests for assistance from nonsmokers in other states increased, the organization grew into a national resource and changed its name in 1988 to Americans for Nonsmokers' Rights (ANR). ANR staff, members, and board have contributed to the incredible shift in the social norm toward smokefree environments. As of October 2, 2017, there are 4,924 municipalities with laws in effect that restrict where smoking is allowed. There are 1,415 municipalities; and 42 states, along with the District of Columbia, American Samoa, the Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands that have a 100% smokefree provision in effect in non-hospitality workplaces, and/or restaurants, and/or bars.

Without support from our members, we could not have come this far!

Since 1976, ANR has kept its mission and goal simple: protect nonsmokers from unwanted and deadly exposure to secondhand smoke. ANR does so by:

  1. Supporting the adoption of voluntary, legislative and regulatory policy that eliminates secondhand smoke exposure;
  2. Promoting smokefree indoor air as the cultural norm;
  3. Monitoring, exposing, and countering the efforts by the tobacco industry and its allies to prevent the establishment of smokefree policies;
  4. Supporting measures that limit the influence of the tobacco industry on public health policy; and
  5. Supporting litigation where appropriate.

ANR celebrated its 30th Anniversary on March 1, 2006, and is proud to have been part of many significant successes in the nonsmokers' rights movement. Although we have achieved a great deal, there is still much work to be done. ANR relies upon membership dues and donations to conduct the cutting-edge advocacy and technical assistance necessary to successfully plan and run a smokefree campaign, as well as counter tobacco industry opposition tactics such as law suits, ballot challenges, and media misinformation campaigns. Be a part of history - become a member of Americans for Nonsmokers' Rights today!

Although active as early as 1974, the American Nonsmokers' Rights (ANR) Foundation, originally the California Nonsmokers' Rights Foundation, was formally certified as a 501(c)3 nonprofit in 1984. The ANR Foundation, the sister organization to ANR, is a non-lobbying, educational nonprofit organization that creates comprehensive programs for school-age youth on issues of smoking prevention and their right to breathe smokefree air. It provides educational resources for schools, health departments, medical organizations, and others interested in the issues surrounding smoking and secondhand smoke. Our goals are to raise a smokefree generation that rejects tobacco use and tobacco industry manipulation and interference tactics, and to educate the community about the health effects of secondhand smoke and the benefits of smokefree environments.

The ANR Foundation uncovered and released the previously suppressed documentary Death in the West which juxtaposes advertising of Marlboro cigarettes as sexy and alluring with real life cowboys dying of smoking-related diseases. Called "the most powerful anti-smoking film ever made," Death in the West was censored by Philip Morris after one airing in Britain in 1976. Death in the West has since become the core of a highly successful smoking prevention curriculum for children and has been aired on television stations across the country.

The ANR Foundation is the only national repository of local tobacco-related ordinances and regulations in the United States. Our U.S. Tobacco Control Laws Database© serves as a key resource for researchers and media outlets which use our data to document trends and research the effectiveness of tobacco-related legislation. Each quarter, ANR Foundation staff creates 26 lists, tables and charts, and 9 maps to illustrate the trend toward smokefree air. Over 300 peer-reviewed publications, five NCI monographs and three Surgeon's General Reports have used the ANR Foundation data as a primary data source.

The ANR Foundation accomplishes its goals by:

  1. Collecting and disseminating accurate scientific information about the health effects of secondhand smoke exposure;
  2. Empowering the public to protect itself from secondhand smoke exposure by providing information on methods and strategies for achieving smokefree venues, including tracking and analysis of existing legislation regulating tobacco smoke, preparing model smokefree policies, and collecting and disseminating accurate data on the economic impact of smokefree policies;
  3. Promoting smokefree indoor air as the cultural norm;
  4. Designing and implementing educational programs for young people to encourage them to remain nonsmokers and to help them learn methods for advocating for smokefree environments;
  5. Supporting measures that limit the influence of the tobacco industry on public health policy, including tracking the industry, its allies and front groups; and
  6. Supporting litigation where appropriate.

Help us raise a smokefree generation by supporting the ANR Foundation with your generous donation, or by purchasing our materials or training services.