A decade of breathing clean indoor air was celebrated on the occasion of the 10th anniversary of the New York State Clean Indoor Air Act (CIAA). Western New York health leaders, restaurant and bar owners, health advocates, youth and public officials applauded the success of the groundbreaking law which laid the foundation for today's healthier communities.
This statewide legislation made businesses, restaurants and bars smoke free and continues to save countless lives. CIAA improved indoor air quality at public places which, in turn, has lowered health risks associated with secondhand smoke.
A recent observational study conducted by the New York State Bureau of Tobacco Control found that compliance with CIAA was 100% in restaurants and 99.4% in bars. Public support remains strong. The historic legislation protects millions of New Yorkers from exposure to secondhand smoke.
Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz said, "Today, we take for granted the fact that people can't smoke in restaurants, bars, bowling alleys, offices, schools, and hospitals. The 10th anniversary of the Clean Indoor Air Act is an appropriate time to remember it wasn't always this way, and for the last ten years our residents, especially children, have enjoyed being in these places without having to endure secondhand smoke. Today we are celebrating a cleaner environment and healthier lungs for everyone."
"New York State's Clean Indoor Air Law is one of the most significant public health reforms in our lifetime. It has prevented untold premature death and debilitating illness due to exposure to toxic secondhand smoke. The 10th anniversary of its passage is a time to reflect on just how far we've come in our efforts to finish the fight against cancer," said Gretchen Leffler, Regional Vice President of the American Cancer Society.
There was fierce opposition to this law and many stated it would be the end of the bar and restaurant business in New York State. However, the hospitality industry has flourished.
Andrew Hyland, PhD, Chair of the Department of Health Behavior at Roswell Park Cancer Institute added, "The 2003 Clean Indoor Air Act has been an unqualified public health policy success. Exposure to a toxin has been dramatically reduced, the public overwhelmingly supports the policy, and the predicted economic collapse of the hospitality industry did not occur."
"While the Clean Indoor Air Act helped New Yorkers breathe easier and live longer, there are still 2.5 million smokers in New York that need help. Tobacco use remains the leading preventable cause of death. Smoking related healthcare costs top $8 billion annually in New York State. So we have a long way to go and more work to do to reduce the impact of tobacco use," said Anthony Billoni, Director of the Erie-Niagara Tobacco-Free Coalition.
Just as New York State took a strong stand in 2003 to protect workers, now it must take action to protect our youth by tackling the issue of tobacco marketing in stores. The U.S. Surgeon General calls youth smoking a pediatric epidemic and states that tobacco marketing is a cause of youth smoking.
"Kids think smoking is okay since the stores we go to are filled with tobacco products and ads, but we want to change that. We deserve protection from tobacco marketing in retail stores just as the public is protected from secondhand smoke," said 15-year-old, Dan Hyatt, a member of the tobacco control youth group, the Erie-Niagara Realty Check Program.
The Erie-Niagara Tobacco-Free Coalition, established in 1993 and located at Roswell Park Cancer Institute, Buffalo, NY, is a member of the New York State Bureau of Tobacco Control. The Coalition is a community-based organization creating a healthier Western New York with the adoption of tobacco-free initiatives. The Coalition strives to reduce retail tobacco marketing, supports property owners and tenants in creating smoke-free housing and provides technical assistance to establish tobacco-free parks, entrance ways and properties.