According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), tobacco use is the largest preventable cause of death and disease in the United States and approximately 443,000 persons in the United States die from smoking-related illnesses. Smoking not only claims the lives of those who use tobacco, but also those who are exposed to secondhand smoke. Secondhand smoke in public places, such as restaurants and workplaces, exposes nonsmokers to the dangerous effects of tobacco use.
Pennsylvania passed the Clean Indoor Act in 2008; however, significant exemptions in the law mean that many citizens and workers are still being exposed to the deadly effects of secondhand smoke.
According to the U.S. Department of Human Services and the Surgeon General Report, secondhand smoke causes heart disease, cancer, lung disease and other illnesses to both children and adults who don't smoke. It is estimated that secondhand smoke causes as many as 75,100 heart disease and deaths and 128,900 heart attacks annually.
The CDC has also found that long-term exposure to secondhand smoke, such as that occurring in a home or workplace is associated with a 25 to 30 percent increased risk for coronary heart disease in adult nonsmokers.
No one should have to choose between earning a living and putting their health at risk due to something that is entirely preventable. That is why I am joining with the American Heart Association and other public health organizations across the state to urge the state General Assembly to support comprehensive clean indoor air legislation, such as House Bill 1485, which would prohibit smoking in all indoor workplaces and public places, no exceptions. If you want to see Pennsylvania enact a comprehensive smoke-free law, make your voice heard at yourethecure.org.