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Reduced Secondhand Smoke Exposure After Implementation of a Comprehensive Statewide Smoking Ban—New York, June 26, 2003–June 30, 2004

This page is archived for historical purposes and is no longer being updated.

July 20, 2007 / Vol. 56 / No. 28

MMWR Highlights

  • On July 24, 2003, the state of New York implemented a law that prohibited smoking in most indoor public places and workplaces.
  • This is the first study to assess changes in a biological marker of secondhand smoke (SHS) exposure in the general population of nonsmokers following implementation of a comprehensive state smoke-free law.
  • Saliva cotinine levels (an objective biological measure of SHS exposure) among nonsmoking participants in the New York Adult Tobacco Survey (NYATS) who submitted saliva samples fell by 47% in the year after the smoke-free law took effect.
  • The proportion of these participants with nondetectable levels of cotinine increased from 32% to 52% over the same period.
  • One year after the law took effect, 13% of NYATS participants who visited bars reported seeing smoking, down from 52% before the law.
  • One year after the law took effect, 3% of NYATS participants who visited restaurants reported seeing smoking, down from 20% before the law.
  • The proportion of NYATS respondents who reported seeing smoking in their workplaces did not change substantially over this period. This proportion was only 14% before the law due to local smoke-free laws and voluntary workplace smoking restrictions.
  • This study adds to the evidence that comprehensive smoke-free laws substantially reduce nonsmokers' SHS exposure, even when significant smoking restrictions were previously in place.
  • SHS causes premature death and disease in nonsmokers, including heart disease and lung cancer in nonsmoking adults.
  • The Surgeon General has concluded that no risk-free level of SHS exposure exists.
  • The only way to fully protect nonsmokers is to completely eliminate smoking in indoor spaces. Separate smoking sections and ventilation systems are not effective approaches.
  • Previous studies have shown that smoke-free laws are associated with reductions in particulate matter in restaurants and bars, substantial and rapid reductions in SHS exposure in nonsmoking restaurant and bar workers, and improvements in respiratory and sensory symptoms and pulmonary function among these workers.