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60 Percent of Biggest Cities in US are Smoke-Free

60 Percent of Biggest Cities in US are Smoke-Free


On November 15, 2012, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced that 60 percent of the largest US cities are now covered by laws that prohibit smoking in indoor areas like restaurants, workplaces, bars, and similar areas. 

The CDC noted huge advancements in anti-smoking laws since 2000.  Only one of the 50 largest cities in the United States had anti-smoking laws in 2000: San Jose, California.  Now, as of October 5, 2012, 16 of the 50 largest cities in the United States are covered by local smoke-free laws, and 14 of the largest cities are covered by state smoke-free laws. 

Only three percent of Americans were protected by smoke-free laws in 2000, and now more than 50 percent are covered.  The majority of smoke-free laws are regulated under local ordinances, but North Dakota just passed statewide smoke-free laws in the first week of November—the first state to adopt such laws since 2010. 

The new standards have curbed exposure to toxic secondhand smoke, which can cause serious health problems like heart attacks, lung cancer, and respiratory problems.  Second hand smoke is especially dangerous to young children, and exposure can cause infant death syndrome (SIDS), ear infections, asthma attacks, and more. 

It is estimated that about 443,000 nonsmoking Americans (46,000 from heart disease and 3,400 from lung cancer) die every year because of secondhand smoke exposure.  According to a 2006 Surgeon General’s Report, there is no level of secondhand-smoke exposure that is risk free. 

CDC Director Thomas R. Frieden, M.D., M.P.H., stated: “Communities have made tremendous progress eliminating smoking from worksites and public places in 60 percent of big cities in the United States. Smoke-free laws save lives and don’t hurt business.  If we can protect workers and the public in the remaining 20 largest cities, 16 million people would be better protected from cancer and heart disease caused by secondhand smoke.”

According to the study, “Comprehensive Smoke-Free Laws—50 Largest U.S. Cities, 2000 and 2012,” 10 out of 20 states with no smoke-free laws are located in the south.  The study was published in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report

Tim McAfee, M.D., M.P.H., with the CDC’s Office on Smoking and Health, stated: “If we continue to progress as we have since 2000, all Americans could be protected from secondhand smoke exposure in workplaces and public places by 2020.”

Smoke-free laws protect nonsmokers in public areas, but studies find that the laws help a percentage of smokers quit smoking as well. 

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention