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Smoke Free Environments

Secondhand smoke (SHS) is a mixture of thousands of chemicals,  much of which are toxic and/or can cause cancer in humans. There is no safe level of exposure to SHS. Exposure to secondhand smoke causes serious disease and death in nonsmoking adults and in children. The most recent major report on SHS risks was released in September, 2005 by the California Environmental Protection Agency (CAL/EPA) Air Resources Board. It confirmed that, in adults, secondhand smoke causes:

  • lung cancer
  • nasal sinus cancer
  • breast cancer in younger (primarily pre-menopausal) women
  • heart disease and heart attacks
  • asthma induction and exacerbation
That SHS harms children, infants and reproductive health through
  • acute lower respiratory tract illness (such as pneumonia and bronchitis);
  • asthma induction and exacerbation;
  • chronic respiratory symptoms;
  • middle ear infection;
  • lower birth weight babies; and
  • sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).
The only way to provide protection from SHS is to make ALL indoor environments (and in some cases outdoor environments) 100% smoke-free. Shared smoking and non-smoking areas, or smoking rooms in buildings with a common ventilation system, contaminate the clean air with the polluted air. Increased ventilation can increase the comfort level but does NOT provide protection from SHS toxins.  A ventilation system that could clean the air of smoke would have the force of a hurricane.

Separately ventilated smoking rooms do not protect those who have to work in them, let smoke into nonsmoking areas when the door opens and closes, are very expensive to install and are difficult to enforce.

Just as tobacco companies refuse to acknowledge that SHS is harmful, they (and restaurant, hotel and bar associations that they fund) also claim that smoke-free environments will cause restaurants and bars to lose business. But dozens of studies of sales, tax and employment data from smoke free jurisdictions show that, without exception, smoke free laws have either a neutral or a positive impact on bar and restaurant revenue.

PAHO's Smoke Free Americas initiative raises awareness of the harm caused by SHS and promotes smoke free environments. For more information, please go to the Smoke Free Americas website.


Who is 100% Smoke Free?

New Zealand
Puerto Rico

States/ Provinces

In US: California, Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Massachusetts, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington State

In Canada: Manitoba, Saskatchewan, New Brunswick and Newfoundland; and territories of Nunavut and Northwest Territories

Plus dozens of municipalities!