New York's Clean Indoor Air Act, celebrating its third anniversary, has reduced secondhand smoke exposure without financially straining bars and restaurants, according to a study conducted by RTI International.
According to the report funded by the New York State Department of Health's Tobacco Control Program, exposure to secondhand smoke declined by 50 percent among nonsmokers in New York in the year following the implementation of the law. The law prohibits smoking in virtually all public places, including bars, restaurants, bowling alleys, taverns and bingo halls.
"New York's Clean Indoor Air Act has demonstrated the profound impact that policy changes can have on public health," said Matthew Farrelly, Ph.D., RTI's senior author for the study.
Last month, the U.S. Surgeon General released findings last month that even brief secondhand smoke exposure can cause immediate harm. According to the Surgeon General, secondhand smoke exposure can cause heart disease and lung cancer in nonsmoking adults and is a known cause of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), respiratory problems, ear infections and asthma attacks in infants and children.
The study of the Clean Indoor Air Act found that prior to implementation of the law, no smoking was observed in 31 percent of New York's hospitality venues. One month after the law took effect that percentage jumped to 93 percent and has remained stable during the first year.
According to the report, 80 percent of New Yorkers favor the smoking ban, including close to 40 percent of all smokers. The authors said that support for the law was highest among New Yorkers who understand the health effects of exposure to secondhand smoke.
The authors also found that sales in bars and restaurants were not adversely affected by the smoking ban.
"While some detractors vigorously opposed the smoking ban claiming that it would adversely impact sales in bars and restaurants, the data clearly do not support this claim," Farrelly said.