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Smoke-free & Tobacco-free Places
Scientific evidence on the toxicity of secondhand tobacco smoke is both overwhelming and indisputable. The complex mixture of gases and particles that make up secondhand smoke (also known as environmental tobacco smoke) contains at least 250 chemicals known to be lethal, including more than 50 that can cause cancer. Medical authorities from around the world have concluded that secondhand smoke exposure causes heart disease, stroke, respiratory disease and lung cancer, has immediate adverse effects on the cardiovascular system, and causes sudden infant death syndrome, acute respiratory infections, ear infections, and asthma attacks in children.
In 2006, the U.S. Surgeon General concluded there is no risk-free level of secondhand smoke exposure and that regulating smoking through smoke-free laws and policies is the most effective way to protect individuals from exposure. Not only do the U.S. medical and public health communities vigorously support smoke-free policies, but so do public health communities around the globe. The first international public health treaty—the World Health Organization’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control—requires participating countries to protect their citizens from secondhand smoke. Delegates from countries representing 85 percent of the world’s population have adopted international guidelines for smoking regulation. These guidelines represent the world’s standards for smoking regulations, and include the recommendation that smoke-free laws should completely eliminate smoking in all indoor workplaces and indoor public places.
This section contains background information and resources on U.S. smoke-free regulation in the following venues. For additional information about global smoke-free regulation and related information, see International Tobacco Control.
Featured resources are in right sidebar (desktop/tablet), or end of page (mobile).
- The Health Consequences of Involuntary Exposure to Tobacco Smoke: A Report of the Surgeon General, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2006 (comprehensive scientific report, summarizing a wealth of scientific data on health risks of exposure to secondhand smoke)
- Fundamentals of Smokefree Workplace Laws, Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights (Nov. 2009) (guiding principles for developing and implementing effective smoke-free policies based on lessons learned from U.S. tobacco control advocates over several decades)
- State Legislated Actions on Tobacco Issues (SLATI), American Lung Association (regularly updated compilation of state tobacco control laws, such as state restrictions on smoking in public places and workplaces and state tobacco taxes)
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention - Smoking & Tobacco Use (containing information on secondhand smoke, including Fact Sheets, Surgeon General Reports, state tobacco activities, related resources and publication, and Morbidity & Mortality Weekly Reports on secondhand smoke)
- Bibliography of Secondhand Smoke Studies, Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights (2010).
Other National Tobacco Control Links
- American Cancer Society
- American Heart Association
- American Lung Association
- Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights
- Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids
- Legacy Tobacco Documents Library
- Office of the Surgeon General
- Partnership for Prevention
- Truth Initiative