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Press Release

Statewide Smoke-Free Workplace Legislation Introduced

Measure Gets Strong Support From Local Governments; New Albuquerque Economic Data Released
Publication Date: 2005-01-24

Santa Fe, NM – Today a coalition of local government officials joined with health advocates to support legislation introduced by Representative Al Park (D-26, Albuquerque) that will clear the air in all New Mexico workplaces including restaurants.

"Now is the time for the State Legislature to enact a law to protect the health of New Mexico’s workers, children and people with breathing problems by eliminating smoking in restaurants and many other places where New Mexicans eat and work," said Representative Park. “Given the fact that 42%of New Mexicans are covered by clean indoor air policies across the state, my proposal is a common sense approach to protect all New Mexicans from the dangers of secondhand smoke.”

Representative Park was joined by several local government officials who support this effort to establish a statewide policy. Eric Griego, Albuquerque City Councilor; Miguel Chavez, Santa Fe City Councilor; David Lansford, Mayor of the City of Clovis, and Joe Maestas, Española City Councilor all expressed their support for this proposal. “As a Mayor and a pharmacist, I join with you today to express my strong personal support for this legislation,” stated Mayor Lansford.

Data was also released today showing the economic impact of  Albuquerque’s first full year of its clean indoor air ordinance. “In the public debate about the ordinance, some restaurant owners and other critics contended that the City would lose revenue if the ordinance were passed,” noted Albuquerque Councilor Eric Griego. “Data for the first fiscal year show that gross receipts in restaurants actually increased by 6.5% over the previous fiscal year which should lay to rest claims by the naysayers –smoke free ordinances do NOT harm business.” Overall, gross receipts in Albuquerque’s general retail and service sectors grew nearly 22% over 2003.

This legislation is also strongly supported by New Mexico voters. Nearly 2 out of 3 New Mexico voters support a law prohibiting smoking in all New Mexico workplaces including restaurants. This strong support for protection from secondhand smoke extends across party lines and throughout the state. The survey of 500 registered New Mexico voters was conducted by Research & Polling, Inc.

Secondhand smoke is scientifically proven to cause lung cancer, heart disease, emphysema and other illnesses and is responsible nationally for thousands of deaths each year. Studies show that kids are especially vulnerable to other people’s smoke, suffering more respiratory problems, ear infections and asthma. At least 200 New Mexicans die each year from secondhand smoke.

“The growing evidence that secondhand smoke harms health, but smoke-free laws do not harm business, has spurred a strong, bipartisan momentum across the country to protect the public’s right to breathe clean air,” noted Beverly May from the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids. Seven states –California, Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, New York, Massachusetts and Rhode Island – have now enacted comprehensive, statewide smoke-free laws. Florida, Idaho and Utah have passed smokefree laws that exempt only stand-alone bars.

New Mexicans Concerned About Tobacco is a statewide coalition that includes the American Cancer Society, American Heart Association and American Lung Association, and a network of nearly 2,000 grassroots advocates across the state.


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