Smokefree Skies at 31

February 25, 2021, marks the 31-year anniversary of this important public health achievement made possible by a broad coalition of health groups, legislative champions Senator Lautenberg and Senator Durbin (then Rep. Durbin), and tenacious flight attendants who were willing to speak up publicly for their right to breathe. See Senator Durbin’s remarks on the 25th anniversary.

Flight attendants and other airplane crew members were regularly subjected to toxic secondhand smoke. Hear what veteran flight attendants have to say about working on smoke-filled flights then and their smokefree workplaces now. Watch Patty Young, one of the early voices in the fight, describe what it was like to work in a smoke-filled airplane.

“Our flight attendant fight was a long and difficult road that resulted in many sicknesses, diseases, deaths, and disabilities for our flight attendants.” —Patty Young

Patty’s impassioned speech about her right to smokefree air still applies for many classes of workers in hospitality workplaces that are left behind. We fought for years in an uphill battle to protect the health of flight attendants and passengers, and today we remain committed to smokefree advocacy, to close the gaps in smokefree protections for musicians, casino workers, bar and hospitality staff who still work in smoke-filled environments. While we have much to celebrate, there is still more work ahead of us.

We want to close the gaps in smokefree protections for ALL workers!

Why Aren’t All Workers Protected?

The tobacco industry works tirelessly to prevent state and local smokefree protections. Their arguments and strategies remain the same. Big Tobacco hasn’t gone away.

The tobacco industry maintains that smoking sections inside a building like a casino, or smoking rooms in a hotel, are a way to control smoke. We know that smoking sections do not protect people from the health hazards of secondhand smoke. Smoke drifts and ventilation doesn’t remove toxins. There is no HVAC system that can remove the cancer causing elements in secondhand smoke or vapor from an e-cigarette.

Everyone has to breathe at work! We all need clean indoor air to be healthy.

Do you remember what it was like to travel on an airplane filled with cigarette smoke? Let us know about your experiences.