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Indoor Air Quality in Hospitality Venues Before and After Implementation of a Clean Indoor Air Law—Western New York, 2003

November 12, 2004 / Vol. 53 / No. 44

MMWR Highlights

Western New York Study

  • On average, the levels of respirable suspended particles (RSPs) in 20 hospitality venues in western New York fell by 84% after a comprehensive state clean indoor air law took effect.
  • RSP levels fell in every establishment where smoking or indirect secondhand smoke exposure from an adjoining room was occurring prior to implementation of the law.
  • The study adds to existing evidence that comprehensive smoke-free policies are associated with reductions in the levels of RSPs in secondhand smoke in settings where smoking was previously occurring. In addition to being a health hazard in their own right, RSPs are a marker for the presence of secondhand smoke, which is a documented health hazard.
  • Comprehensive smoke-free policies in workplaces and public places have the potential to rapidly and effectively reduce secondhand smoke exposure. This would be expected to result in reductions in the prevalence of health conditions that have been linked with secondhand smoke exposure.
  • The study adds to the evidence that smoke-free policies protect nonsmoking employees and patrons from the health risks posed by secondhand smoke.


  • Secondhand smoke contains more than 50 cancer-causing agents (carcinogens) and is responsible each year for at least 3,000 lung cancer deaths and more than 35,000 coronary heart disease deaths among nonsmokers in the United States.
  • Exposure to secondhand smoke is associated with an increased risk for respiratory infections, asthma, sudden infant death syndrome, and lower chronic ear infections among children.
  • Even short-term exposures to secondhand smoke, such as those that might be experienced by a patron in a restaurant or bar that allows smoking, can increase the risk of experiencing an acute cardiovascular event
  • Although population-based data show declining secondhand smoke exposure in the United States over time, secondhand smoke exposure remains a common, preventable public health hazard. Policies requiring smoke-free environments are the most effective method of reducing secondhand smoke exposure.
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