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Media Statement

Statement by Thomas R. Frieden, M.D., M.P.H. Director, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Regarding Institute of Medicine Report on Secondhand-Smoke Exposure and Heart Disease

For Immediate Release: October 15, 2009
Contact: CDC Division of Media Relations, Phone: (404) 639-3286


The Institute of Medicine (IOM) report, “Secondhand–Smoke Exposure and Cardiovascular Effects: Making Sense of the Evidence,” confirms that secondhand smoke could cause heart attacks and that smoke–free laws prevent heart attacks and save lives.

The report confirms that eliminating smoking in workplaces, restaurants, bars, and other public places is an effective way to protect Americans from the health effects of secondhand smoke, particularly on the cardiovascular system. The IOM also concluded that the evidence is compelling that even brief secondhand smoke exposure could trigger a heart attack.

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. Nearly three of four U.S. adults have at least one major risk factor for heart disease. Yet, only 40 percent of Americans live in areas with comprehensive state or local laws that ban smoking in public places. These findings suggest that tens of thousands of heart attacks could be prevented each year, and that states and communities that do not have comprehensive smoke–free laws could have significant cardiovascular health benefits by doing so.

There's no time to waste with this many lives at stake. It is time to mount a full–scale assault on the tobacco epidemic and eliminate all exposure to secondhand smoke. Smoke–free laws are one of the most readily available and cost–effective methods for preventing heart attacks, heart disease–related illnesses and deaths, and reducing health care costs. The only way to protect nonsmokers from the dangerous chemicals in secondhand smoke is to protect workers and the public through comprehensive smoke–free laws.

For information on quitting, visit http://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/quit_smoking/index.htm. For the latest resources and information on protecting yourself from secondhand smoke, visit http://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/basic_information/secondhand_smoke/index.htm. To view the full IOM report, visit http://www.nap.edu/catalog.php?record_id=12649.

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