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American Lung Association Hails Decision to Snuff Out Smoking in U.S. Senate Lounges
Date:5/6/2008

Senators, Staff and Visitors Should Not be Exposed to Secondhand Smoke in the Nation's Capitol

Statement of Bernadette A. Toomey, President and CEO

WASHINGTON, May 6 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- On behalf of the American Lung Association, I commend Senators Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), Tom Harkin (D-IA), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Jack Reed (D-RI) for their successful efforts to prohibit smoking in all public places in the Senate. For too long, Senators, staff and visitors to the Senate Office Buildings have been exposed to secondhand smoke. We also thank Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Robert Bennett (R-UT), the Chair and Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Rules, for their leadership in supporting and implementing this important public health measure.

While we recognize today's announcement as a critical step in the right direction, the American Lung Association also urges the Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives to make the entire U.S. Capitol complex smokefree. Ironically, many Senators and House Members are prohibited from smoking in worksites and public places while in their states and districts--but they are still allowed to smoke in personal and committee offices on Capitol Hill. Smoking is also still permitted in two locations in House office buildings. No one should be exposed to secondhand smoke as a condition of employment.

Earlier this year, Senator Lautenberg and his colleagues led efforts in the Senate to cease sales of tobacco products in its retail stores. Tobacco products were being sold without District of Columbia excise taxes--making them cheaper and easier to obtain. The combined actions of these Senators to limit people's access and exposure to tobacco products and secondhand smoke will save lives.

In 2006, the American Lung Association issued our Smokefree Air 2010 Challenge, which calls on all states and communities to pass comprehensive smokefree legislation no later than 2010. Twenty-three states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico have passed comprehensive smokefree laws, protecting workers and the public from the dangers of secondhand smoke.

In 2007, the American Lung Association submitted a petition to Congress signed by more than 10,000 citizens, calling on congressional leaders to make our U.S. Capitol 100 percent smokefree. The U.S. Surgeon General released a report in June of 2006 that found there is no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke and that secondhand smoke causes premature death and disease in those who are exposed to it.

About the American Lung Association: Beginning our second century, the American Lung Association is the leading organization working to prevent lung disease and promote lung health. Lung disease death rates continue to increase while other leading causes of death have declined. The American Lung Association funds vital research on the causes of and treatments for lung disease. With the generous support of the public, the American Lung Association is "Improving life, one breath at a time." For more information about the American Lung Association or to support the work it does, call 1-800-LUNG-USA (1-800-586-4872) or log on to http://www.lungusa.org.


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SOURCE American Lung Association
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