The ANR Foundation is proud to announce the winners of its annual Smokefree Indoor Air Challenge awards for the passage of strong local smokefree laws in 2018. Texas won first place, followed closely by Mississippi and Kentucky who took second place and third place, respectively. The awards were presented at the National Conference on Tobacco or Health in Minneapolis on August 28, 2019. Winners are determined based on policy surveillance data compiled from our U.S. Tobacco Control Laws Database©.
These three states also won an additional award for enacting the most local smokefree laws in 2018 that also prohibit the use of e-cigarettes in smokefree spaces. Nonsmokers should not have to breathe the secondhand emissions from electronic smoking devices or any other form of smoking. In addition, given the rising epidemic of youth use and the recent spate of pulmonary illnesses and fatalities, policies that reduce exposure and role modeling of e-cigarette use are critical components to strong public health laws.
“We applaud the leadership of communities for standing up to Big Tobacco and taking local action to protect their citizens from exposure to secondhand smoke and e-cigarette aerosol in workplaces and public places,” said Cynthia Hallett, ANR Foundation President and CEO. “Everyone deserves the right to breathe smokefree air in their workplace and in public places.”
The American Nonsmokers’ Rights Foundation is committed to closing gaps in smokefree protections. It recently released a new report, Bridging the Gap: Status of Smokefree Air in the United States, that provides a national overview on the progress and ongoing disparities in exposure to secondhand smoke. In particular, the report highlights places that currently lack strong laws that ensure smokefree air, and illustrates which communities, racial/ethnic groups, and types of workers are least likely to be protected.
Secondhand smoke is a top preventable cause of disease, health costs, and early death. Even a little exposure causes big health risks. Smoking rooms, sections, and ventilation systems do not address the health hazards. Smokefree cities are healthy cities – smokefree air should be included as a social determinant of health and prioritized as a critical policy issue.
Since 1998, Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights and the ANR Foundation has awarded the Smokefree Indoor Air Challenge awards to recognize the important smokefree policy work conducted at the local level. The 2019 Smokefree Indoor Air Challenge awards will be given at our Clearing the Air Institute in Atlanta, GA in August 2020.