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CDC: More States Need to Go ‘Smoke-Free’

Progress Seen in Reduction of Secondhand Smoke Exposure, but CDC Calls for Tougher Action
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Laura J. Martin, MD

April 21, 2011 -- People are banned by law from smoking in bars, restaurants, and work sites in half of all states in the U.S., but more action is needed to reduce heart disease and lung cancer caused by secondhand smoke, the CDC says in a new report.

Seven states have no statewide smoking restrictions at all for private work sites, restaurants, or bars, according to the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

The states are:

  • Indiana
  • Kentucky
  • Mississippi
  • South Carolina
  • Texas
  • West Virginia
  • Wyoming

Restaurants, bars, and private sector work sites are major places where people are subjected to secondhand smoke, the report states.

In the past 10 years, 25 states plus Washington, D.C., have enacted comprehensive smoke-free laws restricting smoking in all indoor areas of private sector work sites, restaurants, and bars.

“Eliminating smoking from worksites, restaurants and bars is a low-cost, high-impact strategy that will protect non-smokers and allow them to live healthier, longer, more productive lives, while lowering health care costs associated with second-hand smoke,” CDC Director Thomas R. Frieden, MD, MPH, says in a news release. “While there has been a lot of progress over the past decade, far too many Americans continue to be exposed to secondhand smoke at their workplaces, increasing their risk of cancer and heart attacks.”

Secondhand Linked to Heart Disease, Cancer

Ursula Bauer, PhD, MPH, of CDC, says secondhand smoke accounts for 46,000 heart disease deaths and 3,400 lung cancer deaths among nonsmokers annually.

“Completely prohibiting smoking in all public places and workplaces is the only way to fully protect non-smokers from second-hand smoke exposure,” she says in the CDC news release.

Even though many states and local areas have passed smoke-free laws and ordinances, about 88 million nonsmoking Americans age 3 or older are still exposed to secondhand smoke, the CDC says.

According to the CDC study, four states have smoke-free laws covering two of three locations. Florida, Louisiana, and Nevada restrict smoking in work sites and restaurants but not in bars. North Carolina permits smoking on work sites, but not in bars or restaurants.

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