Thirty of the 50 largest U.S. cities prohibit smoking indoors at all workplaces, restaurants and bars, the federal government reported. Just 12 years ago, only San Jose had such a law.
As of Oct. 12, 16 of the largest cities had comprehensive smoke-free laws, and 14 additional cities were covered under state laws, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported this week.
Overall, nearly half of Americans are covered by state or local smoke-free laws, compared with less than 3% in 2000, the CDC said in its report published in the agency’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.
“Smoke-free laws save lives and don’t hurt business,” said Thomas Frieden, the director of the CDC, who said communities have made “tremendous progress” in protecting people from secondhand smoke.
Ten of the 20 cities without these laws are in the South, the CDC said.
“If we continue to progress as we have since 2000, all Americans could be protected from secondhand smoke exposure in workplaces and public places by 2020,” Tim McAfee, director of the CDC’s office on Smoking and Health, said in a statement.
The 2006 surgeon general’s report said there is no risk-free level of exposure to secondhand smoke. Cigarette use kills 443,000 Americans a year, according to the government.
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