(Richmond, VA) February 17, 2010 – The American Cancer Society, American Heart Association and American Lung Association today expressed their disappointment that the House of Delegates has failed to protect state and local government workers from the deadly effects of secondhand smoke. These leaders failed their constituents by not allowing the other Delegates to even consider HB1351, a bill introduced by Delegate Patrick Hope (D-Arlington) that would prohibit smoking in all state and local government buildings.
“It is regrettable that House Republicans have put the politics of tobacco over the public’s health. Secondhand smoke kills and everyday we are continuing to expose our government employees and visitors to our public buildings” said Delegate Hope. In a 2006 report, the U.S. Surgeon General found that there is no risk-free level of exposure to secondhand smoke and that the only way to protect nonsmokers from secondhand smoke is to require smoke-free workplaces and public places. Other approaches, such as air ventilation systems, do not eliminate exposure to secondhand smoke. Secondhand smoke is estimated to cause 1,000 to 1,700 deaths per year in Virginia from such causes as lung cancer, respiratory disease, heart disease and SIDS.
In 2006, Governor Tim Kaine issued Executive Order 41, which made buildings within the Executive Branch of state government smoke-free. HB 1351 would have extended this same protection to Virginians who work in or visit legislative and judicial buildings, such as the General Assembly Building and courthouses.
“The American Cancer Society, along with the American Heart Association and the American Lung Association, commend Delegate Hope for taking a stand on this important health issue” said Keenan Caldwell, director of government relations for the American Cancer Society “Our organizations do not understand why the House leadership does not want to give state employees the same protection that they attempted to give restaurant workers last year.”
For more information, contact:
American Cancer Society
American Lung Association of Virginia
(804) 267-1900 X2003
American Heart Association
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