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Maryland, Minnesota Go Smoke-free Oct. 1 - Pennsylvania Overdue in Following Suit

Statement of William V. Corr, Executive Director, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids

WASHINGTON, Sept. 28 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The following is a statement of William V. Corr, Executive Director, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids:

On October 1, Pennsylvania will fall further behind in protecting workers and the public from the serious dangers of secondhand smoke as two more states - neighboring Maryland and Minnesota - implement comprehensive smoke-free laws that cover all workplaces, including restaurants and bars. We urge the Pennsylvania Legislature to come to agreement and enact into law a comprehensive smoke-free law that is free of exemptions and protects everyone's right to breathe clean air. Secondhand smoke is a proven cause of lung cancer, heart disease and other serious illnesses. With a comprehensive smoke-free law, Pennsylvania leaders can ensure that no one has to choose between their health and their paycheck.

Smoke-free laws are sweeping the country - 22 states, the District of Columbia and hundreds of cities and counties have now enacted smoke-free laws that cover restaurants and bars. In addition to Maryland, Pennsylvania's smoke-free neighbors include Delaware, New Jersey, New York and Ohio. Altogether, more than half the U.S. population is now protected by smoke-free laws that include restaurants and bars. Pennsylvania workers and residents deserve the same right to breathe clean air, and the time is now for the Legislature to protect this right.

Pennsylvanians strongly support comprehensive smoke-free legislation - 84 percent agree that ALL workers should be protected from the serious health hazards of secondhand smoke. The Legislature should support the comprehensive smoke-free bill approved this summer by the state House and reject the weak, loophole-filled measure that emerged from the Senate. The Senate version of the bill would unacceptably condemn some workers to continued exposure to the cancer-causing chemicals in secondhand smoke.

Facts About Secondhand Smoke and Smoke-free Laws

-- Twenty-two states, Washington, D.C. and Puerto Rico have enacted smoke-free laws that cover restaurants and bars. The states: 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. (While the Maryland law takes effect October 1, it will not be fully enforced until February 1, 2008.)

-- 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 U.S. 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.

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SOURCE Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids
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