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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.

Check out our resources below, in the sidebar, or in our Smoke-free and Tobacco-free Places resource archive.


Key Resources

  • 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)
  • The Verdict Is In: Findings from United States v. Philip Morris – Secondhand Smoke, Tobacco Control Legal Consortium, 2006, 1.58 Mb (compilation of key quotes from Final Opinion in U.S. v. Philip Morris, concluding that the Defendant tobacco companies were aware for years that secondhand smoke was hazardous to non-smokers and that this information could affect the tobacco industry’s profitability, and describing the steps the Defendants took, after promising to support objective research on the issue, to undermine independent research efforts, to fund industry-friendly research, and to suppress and trivialize unfavorable research results)
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website (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)

Other National Tobacco Control Links

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