Coalition of Minnesota Experts: Surgeon General's Report Proves a Statewide Smoke-Free Policy is Long Overdue

Candidates Should State Positions, Say Health Groups, Doctors, Insurers,

Researchers



Jun 27, 2006, 01:00 ET from Minnesota Smoke-Free Coalition

    ST. PAUL, Minn., June 27 /PRNewswire/ -- A coalition of leading
 Minnesota health organizations on Tuesday hailed the U.S. Surgeon General's
 new report on secondhand smoke as overwhelming proof that the time is long
 overdue for a statewide law protecting Minnesotans' right to breathe
 smoke-free air in their places of work.
     "The Surgeon General has reaffirmed even more strongly what the
 scientific community has held to be fact for more than 20 years: Secondhand
 smoke causes serious and fatal illnesses in people who choose not to
 smoke," said Pat McKone, president-elect of the Minnesota Smoke-Free
 Coalition. "There should no longer be any excuse for policymakers to claim
 that the science is unsettled. It is time for elected officials in
 Minnesota to acknowledge their obligation to protect their constituents
 from the clear and present danger of secondhand smoke."
     The Coalition called on Minnesotans to ask candidates running for
 legislative office in November where they stand on a statewide smoke-free
 policy.
     The Minnesota Smoke-Free Coalition is a broad-based group that includes
 the state's leading public health organizations, research centers,
 insurance providers, hospitals, and city and county health departments.
 Coalition members the American Cancer Society, the American Heart
 Association Greater Midwest Affiliate, and the American Lung Association
 joined with a number of physicians to highlight the report and its
 implications for Minnesotans' health during an announcement at the Lung
 Association's state headquarters in St. Paul.
     Physicians at the news conference recounted their own patients' health
 problems stemming from secondhand smoke. Speaking were obstetrician Dr.
 Charles E. Crutchfield of Associated Ob-Gyn, St. Paul; oncologist Dr. Brian
 H. Rank, medical director for HealthPartners Medical Group; and
 cardiologist Dr. Thomas Kottke of St. Paul's Regions Hospital. "The
 report's finding mirror what I and my colleagues see in our practices every
 day: Smoke and secondhand smoke destroy lives," Dr. Rank said, adding, "The
 only way to protect people is to eliminate exposure." BlueCross and
 BlueShield of Minnesota and the Minnesota Partnership for Action Against
 Tobacco also endorsed the announcement, along with Minnesota Smoke-Free
 Coalition members the Minnesota Medical Association, Allina Hospitals and
 Clinics, HealthPartners, Hennepin Medical Society, Ramsey Medical Society,
 and St. Mary's/Duluth Clinic Health System.
     The report released earlier Tuesday in Washington, D.C., by Surgeon
 General Richard Carmona is an update of the landmark 1986 report which was
 the first to decisively quantify the health risks to non-smokers posed by
 tobacco smoke.
     Key findings of the report:
     --  The scientific evidence that secondhand smoke causes serious diseases,
         including lung cancer, heart disease and respiratory illnesses such as
         bronchitis and asthma, is massive and conclusive.  There is no longer
         a scientific controversy or any scientific debate.
 
     --  There is no risk-free level of exposure to secondhand smoke.
 
     --  Exposure to secondhand smoke has substantial and immediate adverse
         effects on the cardiovascular system.
 
     --  Establishing smoke-free workplaces is the only effective way to ensure
         that secondhand smoke exposure does not occur in the workplace.
 
     --  Smoke-free workplace policies are effective in reducing secondhand
         smoke exposure.  Separating smokers from nonsmokers in the same air
         space, cleaning the air and ventilating buildings are not effective at
         eliminating exposure of nonsmokers to secondhand smoke.
 
     --  Smoke-free policies and regulations do not have an adverse economic
         impact on the hospitality industry.
 
     --  An estimated 126 million non-smokers are exposed to secondhand smoke
         in the United States, putting them at increased risk of death from
         lung cancer, heart disease and other illnesses.
     The report and audio from General Carmona's announcement are available
 at http://www.cdc.gov/tobacco . For Minnesota Department of Health reports
 about Minnesotans' exposure to and attitudes about secondhand smoke, see
 http://www.health.state.mn.us/divs/hpcd/tpc/TobaccoReports.html .
     The Minnesota Legislature has considered the proposed Freedom to
 Breathe Act, which would require smoke-free air in all public places and
 workplaces, since 2004. Legislation by Sen. Scott Dibble, Sen. Bill
 Belanger, Rep. Doug Meslow, Rep. Ron Latz has advanced past the committee
 level in the Senate but not in the House. The proposal has been endorsed by
 hundreds of statewide organizations, cities, counties and hospitality
 establishments. For more information on the Freedom to Breathe Act, visit
 the Minnesota Smoke-Free Coalition web site at
 http://www.smokefreecoalition.org .
     Fourteen states have passed smoke-free workplace laws that include
 restaurants and bars: California, Colorado (effective July 1), Connecticut,
 Delaware, Hawaii (effective Nov. 16), Maine, Massachusetts, Montana
 (including bars in 2009), New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Utah
 (including bars in 2009), Vermont and Washington state. So have the
 District of Columbia (including bars in January 2007) and Puerto Rico.
 Countries that have passed comprehensive smoke-free laws include Ireland,
 England (effective 2007), Scotland, Uruguay, Norway, New Zealand, Sweden,
 Italy, Bhutan and Bermuda.
     The Minnesota Smoke-Free Coalition was established in 1984 to reduce
 tobacco use in Minnesota. Its goals are to prevent children from beginning
 a lifelong addiction to tobacco, to help those who want to quit smoking and
 to protect non-smokers from exposure to secondhand smoke. For a full list
 of members, see http://www.smokefreecoalition.org .
 
 

SOURCE Minnesota Smoke-Free Coalition
    ST. PAUL, Minn., June 27 /PRNewswire/ -- A coalition of leading
 Minnesota health organizations on Tuesday hailed the U.S. Surgeon General's
 new report on secondhand smoke as overwhelming proof that the time is long
 overdue for a statewide law protecting Minnesotans' right to breathe
 smoke-free air in their places of work.
     "The Surgeon General has reaffirmed even more strongly what the
 scientific community has held to be fact for more than 20 years: Secondhand
 smoke causes serious and fatal illnesses in people who choose not to
 smoke," said Pat McKone, president-elect of the Minnesota Smoke-Free
 Coalition. "There should no longer be any excuse for policymakers to claim
 that the science is unsettled. It is time for elected officials in
 Minnesota to acknowledge their obligation to protect their constituents
 from the clear and present danger of secondhand smoke."
     The Coalition called on Minnesotans to ask candidates running for
 legislative office in November where they stand on a statewide smoke-free
 policy.
     The Minnesota Smoke-Free Coalition is a broad-based group that includes
 the state's leading public health organizations, research centers,
 insurance providers, hospitals, and city and county health departments.
 Coalition members the American Cancer Society, the American Heart
 Association Greater Midwest Affiliate, and the American Lung Association
 joined with a number of physicians to highlight the report and its
 implications for Minnesotans' health during an announcement at the Lung
 Association's state headquarters in St. Paul.
     Physicians at the news conference recounted their own patients' health
 problems stemming from secondhand smoke. Speaking were obstetrician Dr.
 Charles E. Crutchfield of Associated Ob-Gyn, St. Paul; oncologist Dr. Brian
 H. Rank, medical director for HealthPartners Medical Group; and
 cardiologist Dr. Thomas Kottke of St. Paul's Regions Hospital. "The
 report's finding mirror what I and my colleagues see in our practices every
 day: Smoke and secondhand smoke destroy lives," Dr. Rank said, adding, "The
 only way to protect people is to eliminate exposure." BlueCross and
 BlueShield of Minnesota and the Minnesota Partnership for Action Against
 Tobacco also endorsed the announcement, along with Minnesota Smoke-Free
 Coalition members the Minnesota Medical Association, Allina Hospitals and
 Clinics, HealthPartners, Hennepin Medical Society, Ramsey Medical Society,
 and St. Mary's/Duluth Clinic Health System.
     The report released earlier Tuesday in Washington, D.C., by Surgeon
 General Richard Carmona is an update of the landmark 1986 report which was
 the first to decisively quantify the health risks to non-smokers posed by
 tobacco smoke.
     Key findings of the report:
     --  The scientific evidence that secondhand smoke causes serious diseases,
         including lung cancer, heart disease and respiratory illnesses such as
         bronchitis and asthma, is massive and conclusive.  There is no longer
         a scientific controversy or any scientific debate.
 
     --  There is no risk-free level of exposure to secondhand smoke.
 
     --  Exposure to secondhand smoke has substantial and immediate adverse
         effects on the cardiovascular system.
 
     --  Establishing smoke-free workplaces is the only effective way to ensure
         that secondhand smoke exposure does not occur in the workplace.
 
     --  Smoke-free workplace policies are effective in reducing secondhand
         smoke exposure.  Separating smokers from nonsmokers in the same air
         space, cleaning the air and ventilating buildings are not effective at
         eliminating exposure of nonsmokers to secondhand smoke.
 
     --  Smoke-free policies and regulations do not have an adverse economic
         impact on the hospitality industry.
 
     --  An estimated 126 million non-smokers are exposed to secondhand smoke
         in the United States, putting them at increased risk of death from
         lung cancer, heart disease and other illnesses.
     The report and audio from General Carmona's announcement are available
 at http://www.cdc.gov/tobacco . For Minnesota Department of Health reports
 about Minnesotans' exposure to and attitudes about secondhand smoke, see
 http://www.health.state.mn.us/divs/hpcd/tpc/TobaccoReports.html .
     The Minnesota Legislature has considered the proposed Freedom to
 Breathe Act, which would require smoke-free air in all public places and
 workplaces, since 2004. Legislation by Sen. Scott Dibble, Sen. Bill
 Belanger, Rep. Doug Meslow, Rep. Ron Latz has advanced past the committee
 level in the Senate but not in the House. The proposal has been endorsed by
 hundreds of statewide organizations, cities, counties and hospitality
 establishments. For more information on the Freedom to Breathe Act, visit
 the Minnesota Smoke-Free Coalition web site at
 http://www.smokefreecoalition.org .
     Fourteen states have passed smoke-free workplace laws that include
 restaurants and bars: California, Colorado (effective July 1), Connecticut,
 Delaware, Hawaii (effective Nov. 16), Maine, Massachusetts, Montana
 (including bars in 2009), New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Utah
 (including bars in 2009), Vermont and Washington state. So have the
 District of Columbia (including bars in January 2007) and Puerto Rico.
 Countries that have passed comprehensive smoke-free laws include Ireland,
 England (effective 2007), Scotland, Uruguay, Norway, New Zealand, Sweden,
 Italy, Bhutan and Bermuda.
     The Minnesota Smoke-Free Coalition was established in 1984 to reduce
 tobacco use in Minnesota. Its goals are to prevent children from beginning
 a lifelong addiction to tobacco, to help those who want to quit smoking and
 to protect non-smokers from exposure to secondhand smoke. For a full list
 of members, see http://www.smokefreecoalition.org .
 
 SOURCE Minnesota Smoke-Free Coalition