FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: Cynthia Hallett, Executive Director
July 19, 2007 Phone: (510) 841-3032


New Yorkers Are Breathing Easier
47% drop in secondhand smoke exposure thanks to statewide smokefree law

BERKELEY, CA - New Yorkers are literally breathing easier, thanks to the state's comprehensive smokefree law. The Office on Smoking and Health (OSH) released an article today in the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) journal, Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, entitled, "Reduced Secondhand Smoke Exposure After Implementation of a Comprehensive Statewide Smoking Ban New York, June 26, 2003 - June 30, 2004." The article reports a drastic reduction in exposure to secondhand smoke among New York state residents after the statewide smokefree workplace law took effect.

Authors took saliva samples from nonsmoking adults before and after New York State's smokefree indoor air law took effect (July 24, 2003). These researchers were looking for cotinine, a biomarker of nicotine. The results were significant. Cotinine levels among nonsmoking New York residents dropped by nearly half (47%) in the year after workplaces, restaurants and bars in New York went smokefree. These results suggest that a dramatic population level decline in secondhand smoke exposure follows implementation of a smokefree law.

Secondhand smoke exposure in nonsmokers is linked to over 50,000 premature deaths in the U.S. each year 1,2, in addition to increased risk for asthma attacks and other respiratory ailments. The drop in exposure found in this study will have a tremendous impact on the overall health of New Yorkers.

Cynthia Hallett, Executive Director of Americans for Nonsmokers' Rights reported on the landmark study, "This research proves something advocates have known for decades: smokefree policies lead to a dramatic overall reduction in secondhand smoke exposure. Less secondhand exposure leads to lives saved. It's as simple as that."

According the 2006 U.S. Surgeon General's Report on the health consequences of exposure to secondhand smoke, there is no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke. Even a little exposure is dangerous. Elected officials in states and cities all across the nation are taking note. To date, 26% of the U.S. population is covered by a state or local 100% comprehensive smokefree law covering all workplaces, including all restaurants and bars. And over 57% of the U.S. population is now covered by a law with one or more 100% provisions (100% workplaces and/or restaurants, and/or bars). On September 17th, New Hampshire will be the next state to go smokefree in all its bars and restaurants, followed by Minnesota on October 1st, 2007. To date, 27 states (plus Washington D.C. and Puerto Rico) have enacted strong smokefree laws (four state laws are not yet in effect).

Comprehensive laws that make all workplaces, including restaurants and bars, 100% smokefree are passing in all corners of the country while exemptions that undermine worker health are becoming more and more rare, even in venues like casinos. Ms. Hallett added, "Smoking sections are a relic of the past. Strong comprehensive smokefree laws are now the norm in this country. Smokefree laws that cover all indoor environments, including popular leisure spots, will have the greatest impact on public health. We will continue to fight for smokefree air until everyone is protected, because everyone in this country deserves the right to breathe smokefree air. Everyone."

Americans for Nonsmokers' Rights is the leading national lobbying organization (501 (c) 4), dedicated to nonsmokers' rights, taking on the tobacco industry at all levels of government, protecting nonsmokers from exposure to secondhand smoke, and preventing tobacco addiction among youth. ANR pursues an action-oriented program of policy and legislation.

  1. Glantz, S.A. & Parmley, W., "Passive Smoking and Heart Disease: Epidemiology, Physiology, and Biochemistry," Circulation, 1991; 83(1): 1-12.
  2. Taylor, A., Johnson, D. & Kazemi, H., "Environmental Tobacco Smoke and Cardiovascular Disease," Circulation, 1992; 86: 699-702.

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Smokefree Laws in U.S. States/Commonwealths/Districts

There are 23 states (plus the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico) with laws in effect that require 100% smokefree workplaces and/or restaurants and/or bars. Additionally, four state laws have been enacted that are not yet in effect*, bringing the total number of enacted state/commonwealth/district laws to 29:

  1. Arizona: Workplaces, Restaurants, and Bars
  2. California: Restaurants and Bars
  3. Colorado: Restaurants and Bars
  4. Connecticut: Restaurants and Bars
  5. Delaware: Workplaces, Restaurants, and Bars
  6. District of Columbia: Workplaces, Restaurants, and Bars
  7. Florida: Workplaces, and Restaurants
  8. Hawaii: Workplaces, Restaurants, and Bars
  9. Idaho: Restaurants
  10. Louisiana: Workplaces and Restaurants
  11. Maine: Restaurants and Bars
  12. Massachusetts: Workplaces, Restaurants, and Bars
  13. Montana: Workplaces and Restaurants ( Bars in 2009)
  14. Nevada: Workplaces and Restaurants
  15. New Mexico: Restaurants and Bars
  16. New Jersey: Workplaces, Restaurants, and Bars
  17. New York: Workplaces, Restaurants, and Bars
  18. North Dakota: Workplaces
  19. Ohio: Workplaces, Restaurants, and Bars
  20. Puerto Rico: Workplaces, Restaurants, and Bars
  21. Rhode Island: Workplaces, Restaurants, and Bars
  22. South Dakota: Workplaces
  23. Utah: Workplaces and Restaurants ( Bars in 2009)
  24. Vermont: Restaurants and Bars
  25. Washington: Workplaces, Restaurants, and Bars

    Enacted, not yet in effect:

  26. *Maryland enacted a 100% smokefree workplace, restaurant, and bar law, which is scheduled to go into effect February 2, 2008.
  27. *Minnesota enacted a 100% smokefree restaurant and bar law, which is scheduled to go into effect October 1, 2007.
  28. *New Hampshire enacted a 100% smokefree restaurant and bar law, which is scheduled to go into effect September 17, 2007.
  29. *Oregon enacted a 100% smokefree workplace, restaurant, and bar law, which is scheduled to go into effect January 1, 2009.