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New Study Confirms Health Benefits of Smoke-Free Laws

New Study Confirms Health Benefits of Smoke-Free Laws

Smoke-free environments in Louisiana could prevent heart attacks, save lives

In Louisiana, approximately 1,000 children and adults die each year due to secondhand smoke exposure, and heart disease is at the top cause of death in the state. Now, a report released by the Institute of Medicine (IOM) shows the strong connection between secondhand smoke exposure and heart disease and reveals that smoke-free air laws and regulations are effective at reducing the risk of heart attacks.  

The IOM report, “Secondhand–Smoke Exposure and Cardiovascular Effects: Making Sense of the Evidence,” was released yesterday and it confirms there is “sufficient evidence that breathing secondhand smoke boosts nonsmokers' risk for heart problems,” adding that there is also evidence indicating that even relatively brief exposure to secondhand smoke can lead to a heart attack. In addition, the report showed a causal relationship between smoke-free laws and decreases in heart attacks.

“It is clear that secondhand smoke is dangerous,” said Tiffany Netters, Program Manager for the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals Tobacco Control Program. “Heart disease is the number one killer in Louisiana, and this study is a wake-up call that we must consider ways to protect Louisianans from secondhand smoke.”

About 43 percent of nonsmoking children and 37 percent of nonsmoking adults are exposed to secondhand smoke in the United States, according to recent data. The IOM report, which was supported by the CDC, examined critical studies of smoke-free laws in the United States and around the globe and all showed a reduction of heart attack rates after smoke-free regulations had been instituted.

“This report shows that smoke-free policies can save lives,” said Carrie Broussard, Policy & Advocacy Manager for The Louisiana Campaign for Tobacco-Free Living. “That’s why we are spreading the word to communities around our state that, under The Louisiana Smoke-Free Air Act, local communities can pass ordinances stronger than the state law. Bar and casino workers and our beloved musicians remain exposed to secondhand smoke in the workplace, and this report offers a clear solution to a problem still present in Louisiana.”

To read more about the new report, visit the IOM’s Web site at To download a brief on the report, click here.

The Louisiana Smoke-Free Air Act prohibits smoking in most public places and workplaces, including all restaurants with or without attached bars, but bars and casinos remain exempt. To find out more about it, visit To share your thoughts on secondhand smoke and to learn more about advocating for stronger smoke-free policies in Louisiana, visit