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NAQC Newsroom: Tobacco Control

Great Earned Media Opportunity on Smoke-Free

Thursday, September 16, 2010  
Posted by: Natalia Gromov

You may have already seen coverage of the New England Journal of Medicine study from Scotland showing the impact of that country’s smoke-free law on reducing hospital admissions for childhood asthma. This study provides a great opportunity to highlight yet another benefit of smoke-free laws. It can be shared with media and/or policy makers with the following talking points – or your own.

  • This new study from Scotland shows yet another benefit of smoke-free laws – reducing emergency hospitalizations for childhood asthma, thus saving lives and healthcare dollars.
  • With more than half of American kids aged 3-11 still exposed to secondhand smoke, this added benefit of smoke-free laws is especially important.
  • Studies in the U.S. have show similar effects, which are not surprising given the impact of secondhand smoke on asthma and the success of smoke-free laws in reducing exposure to secondhand smoke.
  • Aside from reducing kids’ exposure to secondhand smoke in public places, smoke-free laws appear to prompt more people, including smokers, to make their homes smoke-free – thereby even further reducing kids’ exposure to secondhand smoke.
  • Strong smoke-free laws protect everybody’s right to breathe clean air and protect workers and patrons from the 4000 chemicals, including more than 60 carcinogens, in secondhand smoke. Secondhand smoke is a proven cause of cancer, heart disease, and other illnesses, including the exacerbation of childhood asthma.

Going forward: We strongly urge you to keep spreading this story and alerting people to this added benefit of going smoke free. Although newspapers may have already run the AP story you can follow up with a letter to the editor supporting the study. Or you can send it to your local talk radio stations and see if they would want any guests to come on and talk about the story and why it shows the need for your community/state to go smoke free.

Here are links to the AP and USA Today stories:  

Additional Details
The study’s findings surprising since we know that children exposed to secondhand smoke are at increased risk for more severe asthma and that with the increase in smoke-free laws, fewer people across the country are exposed to secondhand smoke. The new report issued by the CDC last week ( shows that the percentage of non-smokers exposed to secondhand smoke continues to decline nationwide among both children and adults.

There are a number of reasons to suspect that smoke-free laws contribute to reductions in secondhand smoke among children and ultimately to a reduction in asthma visits: 

1.The reduction in exposure to secondhand smoke in public places and workplaces that children might frequent (restaurants, stores, etc.)

2. The debate around the passage of smoke-free laws in communities and states has educated people not only about the policy but about the harms of secondhand smoke.

3. As noted above, it does appear that the public policies have the added benefit of prompting some to make their homes smoke-free.

Although the study was done in Scotland, across the country there is evidence that even smokers make their homes smoke-free after the passage of smoke-free laws. For example, in the five years after New York State’s Clean Indoor Air Act went into effect the number of adult smokers who reported that their homes were smoke-free jumped from 36% to 59% for smokers with children and from 24% to 32% for smokers without children.

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