No state in Southeast has comprehensive smoke-free law: CDC Report

Latest data from CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) has unveiled that there is no state in the Southeast that has a detailed smoke-free law. Presence of such type of law does not allow smoking in private workplaces, restaurants and bars.

Under the comprehensive smoke-free law, smoking in all indoor areas in public places is not allowed. As per the experts, from 2000 to 2016, the number of states that came up with comprehensive smoke-free laws increased from zero to 28. But there are only two states- North Dakota and California that have been able to achieve comprehensive smoke-free status.

With the removal of exemptions in the smoke-free law in California, around 60% of Americans are now being covered by comprehensive smoke-free laws at the state or local level. Out of the 23, there 14 states that do not have comprehensive statewide smoke-free laws and local laws provide protection.

But the remaining nine states do not have either local or state comprehensive smoke-free law. Out of them, eight are such that does not allow localities from passing smoke-free laws. One more thing being noticed by the researchers was that the local protection differs greatly. To cite an example, 60% of people in West Virginia and 30% of Texans, South Carolinians, and Kentuckians are being protected by local smoke-free laws.

On the other hand, just 2.4% of people in Georgia and less than 15 of people in Arkansas and Wyoming are being covered by local smoke-free laws.

CDC Director Tom Frieden said that a decade back, a report was launched by the Surgeon General in which it mentioned that there is no such level that can assure that at it secondhand smoke exposure would not prove harmful.

Frieden mentioned, “We’ve made great progress in protecting many Americans from secondhand smoke exposure, but millions of Americans, especially those living in southeastern states, are still unprotected from this completely preventable health hazard”.

Corinne Graffunder, director of CDC’s Office on Smoking and Health, was of the view that smoke-free laws provide a cost-effective, high-impact benefit to public health. Such laws not only improve indoor air quality, but also help smokers to quit, reduce the chance for youth to take up smoking and lessen heart attack and asthma-related hospitalizations among non-smokers.

As per experts, secondhand smoke exposure leads to heart disease and lung cancer and both combined take lives of more than 41,000 American non-smokers every year. Experts said that even a small exposure to second-hand smoking could prove harmful. Therefore, complete elimination of indoor smoking practice could protect people who do not smoke.

Experts do not think that by separating smokers from non-smokers, cleaning the air and ventilating buildings could put an end to the practice of secondhand smoke exposure.

In order to have an increased effect, smoke-free law can be expanded to include other types of tobacco products, like e-cigarettes. Currently, there are seven states, including California, Utah, Delaware, Oregon, Hawaii, North Dakota and New Jersey that include e-cigarettes in their statewide comprehensive smoke-free laws.

Dr. Ernest Hawk from the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston said that the states that do not have comprehensive statewide smoke-free laws represent an important key policy failure.

According to a story published on the topic by PR News Wire, “Comprehensive smoke-free laws prohibit smoking in all indoor areas of worksites, restaurants, and bars. The number of states (including the District of Columbia) with comprehensive smoke-free laws increased from none in 2000 to 28 by June 9, 2016. Despite this progress, only two states (North Dakota and California) have achieved comprehensive smoke-free status since 2010. With California’s removal of exemptions in their smoke-free law on June 9, nearly 60 percent of Americans are now covered by comprehensive smoke-free laws at the state or local level, up from less than three percent in 2000.”

Smoke-free laws can be extended to other types of tobacco products, such as e-cigarettes. Including e-cigarettes in state and local smoke-free laws protects non-users from exposure to aerosolized nicotine and other harmful components of e-cigarette vapor. Currently, seven states (California, Delaware, Hawaii, New Jersey, North Dakota, Oregon, and Utah) include e-cigarettes in their statewide comprehensive smoke-free laws.

“No state in the Southeastern U.S. fully bans smoking in all private worksites and eating venues, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Thursday. States have rushed to pass smoking bans over the last 15 years, and now more than half have comprehensive smoking bans that prohibit the activity in workplaces, restaurants and bars. Now nearly 60 percent of Americans live in states with comprehensive smoke-free laws, up from fewer than 3 percent in 2000, according to the CDC,” according to a recent Washington Examiner report.

Yet states on the Southeastern seaboard have lagged in passing smoking bans. And state legislatures have recently slowed down on passing such measures, with just North Dakota and California approving comprehensive smoking bans since 2010. The CDC noted Thursday that it’s been a decade since the Surgeon General published a report on the dangers of second-hand exposure to tobacco, urging states to continue advancing smoke-free laws.

A report published in Stratford Beacon Herald informed, “It’s been 10 years since the introduction of the Smoke-Free Ontario Act, which aimed to protect the province’s residents from the effects of second-hand tobacco smoke. The legislation undoubtedly helped to reduce smoking rates, which fell from 24.5% in the year 2000 to 17.4% in 2014 – a decrease of more than 400,000 smokers in the province. In January of 2015, amendments were made to the Act which banned smoking on bar and restaurant patios, and within 20 metres of parks, playgrounds and sports fields.”

“With the arrival of summer, the Perth District Health Unit has issued a reminder about last year’s changes and their importance in making sure that all Ontario communities have the benefit of the same level of protection from exposure to second-hand smoke. In addition to reducing exposure to second-hand smoke, having smoke-free outdoor laws helps to achieve some other important tobacco-control goals.” Among those are an increased motivation for smokers to quit or cut back, a decreased negative role modelling for children and youth, and protection for the environment and reduced litter.

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