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Action Alert

Smokefree Air Wins Big At Ballot Despite Deep Pockets of Big Tobacco

Publication Date: 2006-11-08


More than 50% of U.S. population to be protected by smokefree air laws

Berkeley, CA - Residents of three more states will soon be enjoying their right to breathe smokefree air thanks to voter approved ballot measures in Arizona, Nevada and Ohio.

These new smokefree protections, combined with 17 other statewide laws and hundreds of local laws already in place, mean that smokefree workplaces will now be the norm for America.

"This is a historic day for the national smokefree air movement," said Cynthia Hallett, Executive Director of Americans for Nonsmokers' Rights. "With the foundation of hundreds of local smokefree laws across the nation and new statewide laws coming into effect, more than 50% of Americans will enjoy strong smokefree protections."

"Everyone should have the right to breathe smokefree air in the workplace because secondhand smoke exposure causes heart disease, cancer and other diseases and death, as confirmed by the recent U.S. Surgeon General's Report on The Health Consequences of Involuntary Exposure to Tobacco Smoke," Hallett added.

Big Tobacco companies like R. J. Reynolds and Philip Morris (Altria), recently found guilty of racketeering in federal court, poured nearly $100 million into opposing tobacco prevention initiative campaigns around the country.

"Big Tobacco's shameless bankrolling to confuse voters and undermine public health should serve as a reminder to those who think this industry has reformed. There is nothing socially responsible about pouring millions of dollars into undermining public health and smokefree policies," said Ms. Hallett.

Voters in Arizona, Nevada and Ohio saw through the smokescreen. In Arizona, Prop 201 passed by 54.2%; in Ohio, voters approved a strong statewide smokefree law (Issue 5), by 58.3%; and in Nevada, the Nevada Clean Indoor Air Act (Question 5) passed with 53.9% of the vote, bringing smokefree indoor air to the public in all three states.

Despite more than eight million dollars of tobacco industry money spent in opposition, Arizona voters approved Proposition 201 by 54.2% of the vote to implement a strong smokefree indoor air law. Arizona will implement their new statewide law on May 1, 2007, which will bring smokefree air to all Arizona's indoor workplaces and public places, including restaurants and bars.

Voters in Nevada overwhelmingly approved the Nevada Smokefree Indoor Air Act (Question 5) by 53.9%. This new law will take effect in less than two weeks, bringing 100% smokefree air to most Nevada workplaces and indoor public places, including schools, day care centers, and restaurants. Stand-alone bars and gaming areas of casinos will be exempt from the new law. In addition, the initiatve restored local control to Nevada's cities and towns, allowing communities to strengthen smokefree policy at the local level.

In Ohio, voters also approved a strong smokefree law, with 58.3% voter support for Issue 5. During the campaign, R.J. Reynolds and other tobacco industry allies attempted to override the health community-backed initiative by placing a competing measure on the ballot, which offered no real smokefree protections. Voters rejected Issue 4 , the tobacco-backed amendment, by 64%, thus leaving the door wide open for smokefree air. Thanks to the dedicated efforts of thousands of volunteers to educate voters on this important issue, all Ohio workers will soon breathe smokefree air.

Local Smokefree Air Election Results
In addition to the statewide ballot initiatives, a number of communities addressed smokefree air laws on the local ballot. Voters in Appleton, WI and Mankato, MN successfully upheld smokefree laws that were passed by the local government and referred to the ballot by smokefree opponents. Voters in Abilene, TX and Nixa, MO overwhelmingly approved non-binding referenda in support of their City Councils adopting smokefree workplace laws. Voters in Baytown, TX; Lee's Summit, MO; and Independence, MO approved strong smokefree laws. Lexington, NE voters successfully rejected a weak ordinance that would have allowed ventilated smoking rooms in businesses, which do not protect people from secondhand smoke exposure. In the only smokefree election loss, voters in Kirkwood, MO rejected a smokefree law, 55% to 45%.

Americans for Nonsmokers' Rights is a national, member-based, not-for-profit organization based in Berkeley, CA that is dedicated to helping nonsmokers breathe smokefree air in enclosed public places and workplaces.

For more information, please contact ANR.

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