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For Immediate Release: May 16, 2013
Contact: CDC Media Relations, Office of Communication
(404) 639-3286

Large majority of adults have smoke-free rules in homes, vehicles

Millions of non-smokers still exposed to secondhand smoke

Four out of five U.S. adults report having voluntary smoke-free rules in their homes and three out of four report having voluntary smoke-free rules in their vehicles, according to a study published in the journal Preventing Chronic Disease, a publication of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The National Adult Tobacco Survey respondents were classified as having smoke-free rules if they never allow smoking inside their homes or vehicles. The study is the first to present estimates of smoke-free rules and secondhand smoke exposure in vehicles among U.S. adults.

Despite the high prevalence of voluntary smoke-free rules in homes and vehicles, the study found that almost 11 million non-smoking adults continue to be exposed to secondhand smoke in their home, and almost 17 million non-smoking adults continue to be exposed to secondhand smoke in a vehicle.  The study also contains state-by-state data showing that the highest prevalence of smoke-free rules in homes and vehicles occurred in many states with comprehensive smoke-free laws and longstanding tobacco control programs. 

“We have made tremendous progress in the last 15 years protecting people in public spaces from secondhand smoke,” said Tim McAfee, M.D., M.P.H., director of the Office on Smoking and Health at CDC. “The good news is that people are applying the same protection in their homes and vehicles. However, millions of non-smokers, many of whom are children, remain exposed to secondhand smoke in these environments.”

Additional study findings include:

  • Eighty-one percent of U.S. adults report having smoke-free rules in their homes and 74 percent have smoke-free rules in their vehicles
  • Eighty-nine percent of non-smokers report having smoke-free home rules, while only 48 percent of smokers have them.
  • Eighty-five percent of non-smokers report having smoke-free vehicle rules, while only 27 percent of smokers have them.
  • Secondhand smoke exposure among nonsmokers in homes and vehicles was greatest among men, younger adults, non-Hispanic blacks, and those with a lower level of education.
  • Many of the states with the lowest prevalence of smoke-free rules in homes and vehicles are states with a high prevalence of adult smoking.

“While almost half of all U.S. residents are protected by 100 percent smoke-free policies in worksites, restaurants and bars, overall there are still an estimated 88 million non-smoking Americans over the age of three who are exposed to secondhand smoke,” said Brian King, Ph.D., an epidemiologist in the CDC’s Office on Smoking and Health and lead author of this study.  “It’s important to educate people on the dangers of secondhand smoke exposure and how smoke-free homes and vehicles can reduce that exposure.”

Exposure to secondhand smoke causes heart disease and lung cancer in adult non-smokers.  In children, secondhand smoke exposure causes more severe and frequent asthma attacks, acute respiratory infections, ear infections and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).  Secondhand smoke exposure is responsible for an estimated 50,000 deaths each year in the United States.  The Surgeon General has concluded there is no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke, and that only 100 percent smoke-free policies can protect non-smokers from the dangers of secondhand smoke.  Opening a window does not work, nor does any other ventilation system.

January 2014 will mark the 50th anniversary of the first Surgeon General’s Report, which first showed that smoking cigarettes causes lung cancer.  Quitting smoking may be the single most effective thing you can do to improve your life expectancy, and now the Affordable Care Act gives Americans greater access to resources to help them quit.  Visit BeTobaccoFree.gov for additional resources on quitting. Smokers who want help quitting smoking can call 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669).  For stories of people who have quit successfully and free quit help, visit www.cdc.gov/tips.

The full study is available at http://www.cdc.gov/pcd/.

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U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES

 
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