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Press Release

For Immediate Release: May 22, 2008
Contact: CDC Office on Smoking and Health, (770) 488-5493

CDC Reports More U.S. Nonsmokers Are Protected by Smoke-Free Laws

Good News as World Celebrates "World No Tobacco Day 2008"

The number of states with laws prohibiting smoking in private sector worksites, restaurants, and/or bars in the United States tripled and the number with no such laws was halved between 2005 and 2007, according to a report in this week's issue of Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR), published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The study, which compared the status of state smoking restrictions, focused on private sector worksites, restaurants, and bars where adult nonsmokers were most likely to be exposed to secondhand smoke -- especially employees in restaurants and bars, who are at risk of exposure to high concentrations of secondhand smoke. The report updates a study that used data compiled from CDC's State Tobacco Activities Tracking and Evaluation System database and was released in July 2005.

The number of states with prohibitions in private sector worksites, restaurants, and/or bars rose from 8 to 25, and the number of states with no such prohibitions fell from 16 to 8, the report said.

"Smoking restrictions such as these reduce the risk of heart disease and lung cancer among nonsmoking adults," said Janet Collins, Ph.D., director of CDC's National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. "These findings are encouraging as they suggest that we may achieve the national health objective of establishing laws making indoor public places and worksites smoke-free in all states by the year 2010."

During the study period that ended Dec. 31, 2007, 18 states changed the level of their smoking restrictions for private sector worksites. Also, 18 states changed the level of their smoking restrictions for restaurants; some of those states also changed worksite restrictions. Twelve states changed the level of their smoking restrictions for bars. All the changes made the restrictions more protective. During the study period, states that required all three settings to be smoke-free increased from three to 12, while the number of states with no smoking restrictions for any of these three settings decreased from 16 to eight.

Global Partner Sees Benefits of the Prevention Efforts

A separate MMWR article illustrates the dramatic impact that restrictions on tobacco advertising and marketing can have on youth smoking.

Findings from the Global Youth Tobacco Survey (GYTS) conducted in Sri Lanka in 1999, 2003, and 2007 indicate steady declines in cigarette smoking, while other tobacco use remained unchanged between 1999 and 2007.

Current cigarette smoking among boys (ages 13-15) decreased from 6.2 percent in 1999 to 1.6 percent in 2007. Parental smoking also decreased, from 50 percent to 30 percent. Exposure to pro-tobacco advertising and promotion did not change from 1999 to 2003 but decreased significantly from 79 percent in 2003 to 67 percent in 2007. However, exposure to secondhand smoke in public places remained unchanged, at more than 65 percent.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), Sri Lanka has taken strong measures in tobacco control in recent years including prohibiting tobacco advertisement through national broadcast and local print mediums, at places where tobacco is sold, and on the Internet.

In addition, exposure to secondhand smoke is banned in health care, education, and government facilities, as well as indoor workplaces. However, smoking restrictions do not ban secondhand smoke exposure in restaurants, pubs, or bars. These exclusions may explain the lack of change in secondhand smoke exposure from 1999 to 2007, according to the study authors.

"Together, these studies show that restricting smoking in public places and strong limits on cigarette marketing and advertising work," said Matthew McKenna, M.D., director of CDC's Office on Smoking and Health. "They protect the health of nonsmokers and prevent many from starting."

On May 31, many countries will observe World No Tobacco Day — an annual event sponsored by WHO to help raise public awareness of the dangers of tobacco use. This year's theme is "Tobacco-Free Youth: Break the Tobacco Marketing Net."

For more information about CDC's tobacco prevention and control program, please visit For information on how to quit tobacco use, visit or contact 1-800-QUIT-NOW.


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