CDC 24/7 - Protecting People - Oregon's Success
What is the problem?
In the United States, environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) causes about 3,000 lung cancer deaths in non-smokers each year. ETS is also linked to heart disease, nasal and sinus cancer, sudden infant death syndrome, asthma, middle ear infections in children, and other illnesses that affect breathing. Although data show ETS exposure is going down in the U.S., it is still a major public health concern. In 2006, only 12 states passed clean indoor air regulations that cover nearly all indoor worksites, including bars and restaurants. Oregon was not one of them.
What did Tracking do?
The Oregon Tracking Program worked with several partners to conduct the Oregon Air Monitoring Project. This project examined indoor air quality in 107 hospitality locations in the state and looked at how indoor smoking affected indoor air pollution. Results of the project showed that restaurants, bars, and other hospitality locations allowing indoor smoking had poorer air quality than both indoor-smoke-free sites and outdoor air. Workers in the locations sampled were exposed to pollution levels more than three times higher than the yearly amount of fine particle air pollution that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency considers safe to breathe. This project showed that Oregon workers and people visiting bars and restaurants are exposed to harmful levels of cancer-causing chemicals and other poisons in cigarette smoke.
Improved public health
This study influenced state legislation passed in 2009, known as the Clean Indoor Air Act of Oregon. With a few exceptions, this legislation makes it illegal to smoke at work and in public places. Policies such as this can reduce ETS exposure and improve public health.