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Pennsylvania's Clean Indoor Air Act Marks One Year Anniversary

Thursday, September 17, 2009 General News J E 4
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Recent study finds 52 lives in the hospitality industry are saved each year

HARRISBURG, Pa., Sept. 10 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Pennsylvania's Clean Indoor Air Act has significantly increased the number of businesses where customers and employees enjoy a healthy, smoke-free environment, Secretary of Health Everette James said today.

The law took effect Sept. 11, 2008, and prohibits smoking in most public places, including restaurants, workplaces and a portion of casino floors.

"Secondhand smoke has a deadly impact on workers and costs our healthcare system billions of dollars," said Secretary James. "This law protects the health of millions of Pennsylvanians from the well-documented dangers of secondhand smoke."

Secondhand smoke contains more than 4,000 chemicals, including at least 60 known to cause cancer. In a 2006 report, the U.S. Surgeon General said it is indisputable that secondhand smoke causes premature death and serious diseases in nonsmoking adults and children.

The 144,000 workers in Pennsylvania's hospitality industry are now breathing cleaner air at work. A recent study commissioned by the Pennsylvania Alliance to Control Tobacco found air pollution in Pennsylvania's bars, restaurants, bingo halls and bowling alleys dropped by an average of 87 percent. Air quality was evaluated before and after the law took effect in a random sampling of businesses statewide. That study estimated that smoke-free air will save 52 hospitality workers' lives annually.

"We have spent the past year educating businesses about the law and what it means for them. We are happy the vast majority of those businesses are smoke free," said Secretary James. "All Pennsylvania citizens deserve to work in a healthy environment."

Diseases resulting from tobacco cost Pennsylvania $5.2 billion annually in healthcare costs, according to the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids. By shielding workers and customers from secondhand smoke, the law is expected to save Pennsylvania taxpayers millions of dollars in health care costs.

Since the law took effect, the Department of Health has issued eight citations, or orders to show cause, to facilities accused of violating the smoking ban. The department enforces the ban in businesses and organizations that do not have a liquor license, such as bingo halls and pool halls.

The Bureau of Liquor Control Enforcement, which has authority over establishments with liquor licenses, has issued 249 citations and 288 warnings.

For more information about Clean Indoor Air, visit www.health.state.pa.us. For resources to help you quit smoking, visit that Web site or call 1-800-QUIT NOW (1-800-784-8669).

CONTACT: Stacy Kriedeman (717) 787-1783

SOURCE Pennsylvania Department of Health
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