IRVING, Texas, June 4, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The AARC is mourning the loss of Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), whose roots with the American Association for Respiratory Care run deep because of the airline smoking legislation he sponsored.
The AARC championed a ban of smoking on airlines back in the late 1980s by enlisting the support of AARC members across the country, who went out to the nation's airports to survey the flying public about smoking on commercial airline flights and their willingness to support a ban. Sixty-four percent of the 33,242 airline passengers surveyed indicated they would support such a ban.
The results of that survey were released to the nation during Thanksgiving week of 1987. The legislation was introduced in the Senate by Sen. Lautenberg calling for a smoking ban on flights of two hours or less. In the House, then Representative Dick Durbin (D-IL) introduced the bill. It was passed by Congress and signed into law in 1988.
The Association's survey was really the only verifiable evidence that members of the public would support a smoking ban and thus it figured heavily into the passage of the bill.
The AARC followed up with a second survey in 1989 showing 92.8% of nonsmokers and 58.1% of smokers approved of the law. We again worked with Sen. Lautenberg and Rep. Durbin to gradually strengthen the law over the years so that now smoking is banned on all flights originating or ending in the U.S. This initiative inspired a massive change banning smoking on most airlines worldwide.
"Senator Lautenberg was a champion for all lung heath. He, along with then Congressman Durbin, partnered with AARC to bring about the smoking ban on commercial airline flights," says Tom Kallstrom, AARC executive director.
Sam Giordano, who was AARC executive director at the time of the survey and legislation, noted that the AARC awarded Senator Lautenberg the Hudson Award for Cardiopulmonary Public Health in 1989 in recognition of his profound contributions to lung health.
About the AARC -- The American Association for Respiratory Care is a 52,000 member professional association of respiratory care professionals. The organization is dedicated to encouraging and promoting professional excellence, advancing the science of respiratory care, and serving as an advocate for patients, their families and the public.
SOURCE American Association for Respiratory Care