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Indiana Legislature Should Protect All Workers from Secondhand Smoke

WASHINGTON, Oct. 30 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The following is a statement of William V. Corr, executive director, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids:

The Indiana Health Finance Commission has taken an important step forward by recommending that the Legislature take effective action to address the serious health threats posed by secondhand smoke, while preserving the right of local governments to take strong action as well. We urge the Legislature to enact a comprehensive smoke-free law that applies to ALL workplaces and protects the health of ALL workers and the public. Whether they work in offices, restaurants, bars or casinos, all Hoosiers deserve the right to breathe clean, smoke-free air.

The U.S. Surgeon General has concluded that secondhand smoke is a proven cause of lung cancer, heart disease and other serious illnesses. With a comprehensive smoke-free law, Indiana leaders can ensure that no one has to choose between their health and their paycheck. No worker should have to breathe the dozens of cancer-causing chemicals in secondhand smoke as a condition of employment. As we were reminded by the moving testimony to the Commission by Bruce Hetrick, who lost his wife to cancer caused by secondhand smoke, this issue is truly a matter of life and death for many Indiana families.

Indiana legislators are expected to introduce legislation making all Indiana workplaces and public places smoke-free. This legislation should encompass all casinos like a law recently enacted in Illinois. The public health community in Indiana strongly supports such comprehensive legislation.

This past year, Indiana was second in the country in the number of new local smoke-free laws, enacting 15 in 2006 and 25 overall, including eight municipal laws that make all restaurants and bars smoke-free. The Legislature can continue this progress by protecting all workers with a comprehensive, statewide law. Indiana would join 22 states (and the District of Columbia) that have already enacted such laws. These states include Illinois and Ohio, which recently implemented its voter-approved smoke-free law and demonstrated once again that smoke-free laws have broad public acceptance and support, protect health and do not harm business. Louisville is also smoke-free, and the Michigan Legislature is considering pending legislation.

Facts About Secondhand Smoke and Smoke-Free Laws

-- The states that have enacted smoke-free laws that include restaurants and bars are: Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Montana, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Rhode Island, Utah, Vermont and Washington.

-- Secondhand smoke contains more than 4,000 chemicals, including at least 69 known to cause cancer. Chemicals in secondhand smoke include formaldehyde, cyanide, arsenic, carbon monoxide, methane, benzene, and radioactive polonium 210.

-- The Surgeon General's 2006 Report on secondhand smoke found that secondhand smoke is a proven cause of lung cancer, heart disease, serious respiratory illnesses such as bronchitis and asthma, low birth weight and sudden infant death syndrome.

-- The Surgeon General also found that secondhand smoke is responsible for tens of thousands of deaths in the United States each year; there is no safe level of exposure; only smoke-free laws provide effective protection from secondhand smoke; and smoke-free laws protect health without harming business.

SOURCE Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids
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