People in All Geographic Areas Need More Protection from Secondhand Smoke
The CDC is focused on protecting all people from health risks—including secondhand smoke (SHS), or the smoke produced when commercial tobacco* is burned—where they work, live, and play. There is no safe level of exposure to SHS.1
Uneven access to smokefree laws and policies drives health inequities.26 Smokefree air policies are important for public health because they protect people who don’t smoke from SHS, motivate those who smoke to quit, and prevent people from starting to smoke. Right now, however, not everyone in the nation is equitably protected by these policies. Progress in smokefree protections have been blocked for some geographic regions and communities within them.
- In some states, communities having residents with less education and lower incomes are less likely to be covered by comprehensive smokefree laws that prohibit smoking in all areas of workplaces, restaurants, and bars.27
- In some states, urban areas are more likely than rural areas to have comprehensive smokefree laws.27
Actions that can protect all people from SHS include:
Make all workplaces smokefree—with no exceptions. Many workplaces are now covered by a smokefree law—but certain types of workers are not included, leaving them exposed to preventable health hazards. Gaps in smokefree protections often leave out the places where some rural residents work, such as restaurants, bars, casinos, farms, and workplaces with fewer than five employees.28
Let local communities create stronger smokefree air policies. One in five people who isn’t protected by a smokefree policy lives in a state that does not allow local communities to adopt their own smokefree laws.29 Letting local governments adopt stronger protections than the state would let more communities protect residents from SHS.26
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- American Lung Association. Cutting Tobacco’s Rural Roots: Tobacco Use in Rural Communities [PDF – 3 MB]. Chicago: American Lung Association; 2015 [accessed 2022 Mar 22].
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- United States Census Bureau. Health Insurance in Rural America. 2019. accessed 2022 Mar 22].
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- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Smoking Cessation. A Report of the Surgeon General [PDF – 9.8 MB]. Atlanta, GA: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Office on Smoking and Health, 2020 [accessed 2022 Mar 22].
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