American Heart Association Recognizes 25th Anniversary of Smoke-free Air Travel

February 23, 2015 Categories: Advocacy News

Washington, D.C., February 23, 2015 – The American Heart Association CEO Nancy Brown issued the following comments on the 25th anniversary of smoke-free skies:

“Smoking or non-smoking? It’s been more than two decades since Americans were asked this question when booking a flight. That practice ended 25 years ago when a new federal law made all domestic airline flights of six hours or less smoke-free. The American Heart Association is pleased to join other national health organizations to mark this momentous anniversary of smoke-free air travel.

This law not only protected thousands of flight attendants and millions of travelers from the harms of secondhand smoke – it was the groundbreaking step that set the stage for smoke-free workplace laws across the country. Our nation owes many thanks to the late Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), the writer of the landmark law, and to Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL), the prime sponsor of the legislation in the House.

A quarter of century ago, we were just beginning to recognize the dangers of secondhand smoke exposure. We knew it was harmful, but we didn’t know then that 38,000 Americans were dying every year from cardiovascular disease because they were around other smokers. We didn’t know that just 30 minutes of exposure to secondhand smoke can trigger a heart attack. We would have to wait sixteen years for the Surgeon General to declare in 2006 that “the debate is over – secondhand smoke is a serious health hazard.” Today, we know beyond a shadow of a doubt, that secondhand smoke kills.

Since 1990, dozens of states and hundreds of local communities have passed strong smoke-free laws. In fact, about 50 percent of Americans live in states or communities with comprehensive smoke-free laws.

But much more needs to be done. Those who work in the hospitality industry, especially bar and casino employees, are regularly exposed to secondhand smoke at work. As we celebrate the 25th anniversary of smoke-free air travel, the American Heart Association calls on lawmakers in all states to enact strong smoke-free laws. Every American has the right to breathe smoke-free air.”

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For media inquiries, please contact Courtney Doby at courtney.doby@heart.org or 202-785-7935.