Clearing the air
PHILADELPHIA, Nov. 12, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The following is an editorial by Theresa Conejo, R.N. Member, American Heart Association Board of Directors, Great Rivers Affiliate, serving Delaware, Kentucky, Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia:
Health advocates from across Pennsylvania declared a major partial victory in 2008 with the passage of the Clean Indoor Air Act (CIAA). At the time of passage, we celebrated a public health milestone – for the first time in Pennsylvania history, more Pennsylvanians than ever before would be protected from the harmful effects of secondhand smoke.
Unfortunately, the law was far from comprehensive. It was, in fact, a compromise that aimed to protect the majority of the public's health while still allowing some establishments, including bars, casinos, private clubs and other venues, to put the health of their employees and others at risk. The American Heart Association believes that no one's health should be compromised, and, certainly, no one should have to risk their health to make a living.
In June of this year, Rep. Mario Scavello introduced HB 1485, which would eliminate exemptions in the CIAA. The American Heart Association, American Cancer Society, American Lung Association, and other public health organizations across the state support this legislation as a necessary way to save thousands of Pennsylvanians from an entirely preventable cause of disease and death.
The evidence is clear that exposure to secondhand smoke wreaks immediate havoc on the body's cardiovascular system and is a contributing factor to the development of heart disease and other cardiovascular diseases, leading to thousands of unnecessary heart attacks and deaths each year. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, long-term exposure to secondhand smoke, such as exposure in a workplace, is associated with a 25–30 percent increased risk for coronary heart disease in adult non-smokers.
According to a study published last year in the journal Circulation, comprehensive smoke-free laws were associated with a rapid 15 percent decrease in heart attack hospitalizations and a 16 percent decrease in stroke hospitalizations. Making all Pennsylvania workplaces, restaurants and bars 100 percent smoke-free would result in 33,800 fewer adult smokers, 19,900 fewer smoking-related deaths, 2,200 fewer non-smoker deaths. It would also prevent thousands of youth from becoming smokers and save an estimated $38.50 million in health care costs within five years. Pennsylvania cannot afford to wait to begin protecting workers and the public from the dangers of secondhand smoke.
The time is right for Pennsylvania to join the other 24 states that have enacted comprehensive, statewide smoke-free laws that cover all indoor workplaces. The American Heart Association urges the General Assembly to support comprehensive clean indoor air legislation, with no exemptions, and bring HB 1485 to a vote. A comprehensive clean indoor air law would protect all workers and the public from the harms of secondhand smoke exposure and would provide a level playing field for all businesses across the commonwealth
The American Heart Association's mission is to build healthier lives free of cardiovascular disease and stroke. We encourage the General Assembly to join us in this mission by protecting all Pennsylvanians from the dangers of secondhand smoke, no exceptions.
SOURCE American Heart Association