Smoke-free Workplaces Increasing, More Needed

While the number of smokefree workplaces rose more than 20 percent in the past six years, more than 30 percent of workplaces\r\nstill do not protect workers from exposure to secondhand smoke, according to a study.

A study released Friday indicates that every state in the nation saw an increase in the number of smokefree workplaces between 1993 and 1999. Great progress has been made in health protection from the very real dangers of passive smoking -- but while the number of smokefree workplaces rose more than 20 percent in the six years tracked during the 90s -- more than 30 percent of U.S. workplaces still do not protect workers from exposure to secondhand smoke.

Many of those not protected from environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) are those who work in the hospitality industry -- hotels, restaurants, bars and casinos.

The report, published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, said too often state and local jurisdictions exempt these types of businesses when enacting legislation to protect workers.

The report was based on interviews with more than 270,000 private sector

workers who were asked about the existence of official workplace smoking rules by the U.S. Census Bureau for the National Cancer Institute.

"The fact is that secondhand smoke exposure kills," according to the American Medical Association (AMA). "Approximately 50,000 Americans who don''t smoke die every year from exposure to ETS."

ETS is classified by EPA as a "Group A" carcinogen -- a substance known to cause cancer in humans.

"What it comes down to is this: human beings have the right to breathe smokefree air and common sense tells us that people should not be exposed to proven carcinogens. Smokefree policies are good for human health and need to be implemented in order to keep Americans from death and disease due to exposure from this known killer," said AMA.

by Virginia Foran

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