The Institute of Medicine today issued a landmark report concluding that smoke-free workplace laws are effective at reducing the risk of heart attacks and heart disease associated with secondhand smoke. The report also found there is compelling evidence that even relatively brief exposure to secondhand smoke can lead to a heart attack.
This report is a powerful reminder of why we need comprehensive smoke-free laws that apply to all workplaces and public places, including restaurants and bars. While 27 states have now enacted smoke-free laws that include restaurants and bars, we can't be satisfied until all Americans are protected from the deadly diseases caused by secondhand smoke.
As Congress debates health care reform, this report is also a timely reminder that effective community prevention is a critical part of fixing our broken health care system. We now have conclusive evidence that smoke-free laws, which cost little to implement, can quickly reduce heart attacks, thereby saving lives and saving money by avoiding the costly treatments that often result. There is no better example that we know to prevent diseases in the first place and not just treat or manage problems after their onset. What's needed is the political will to implement these proven community prevention approaches so that all Americans can breathe clean, smoke-free air and lead healthier lives.
Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, M.D., M.B.A.
President & CEO
Robert Wood Johnson Foundation