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New Study Shows Secondhand Smoke Dangers Greater

By: Matt Holmes Email
By: Matt Holmes Email

Friday January 2, 2009

Doctors typically don't pull any punches when it comes to smoking.

"It's absolutely the most important thing you can do to prevent the number one killer of Americans, which is heart attack [and] stroke," explains UVa Professor of Internal Medicine Dr. Chris Rembold.

Now a new government study shows you're not just hurting yourself, but hurting others; and hurting them much worse than you or they might think.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) conducted a study in Pueblo, Colorado where local government passed a smoke-free workplace law. Over three years, hospital admissions for heart attacks plunged 41 percent.

Those results in Pueblo were compared to two nearby towns with no smoke-free laws, where hospitals saw no change in ER visits at all.

Here in Charlottesville, only a handful of restaurants have decided to go smoke-free.

"We've gotten so used to it, it's been a great thing," says Scott Roth with McGrady's Irish Pub. "We would never go back [to allowing smoking]."

McGrady's is entering its second year as a non-smoking restaurant; a decision management made not just with customers in mind.

"Working here every night, we made the decision really for our employees first and then it had a nice trickle-down effect," Roth explains. "A lot of the regulars who are smokers actually love it too now."

But the experts say going smoke-free isn't just about a pleasant eating environment for non-smokers, it's about saving lives.

"The smoker is affected more than the non-smoker that's exposed to passive cigarette smoke," Dr. Rembold says, "but it is important for everyone else they have around them; not just their children, but even just bystanders."

With that information in mind, you might wonder why there's no clean indoor air law, or smoking ban, in place in Charlottesville.

City official tell us that's something City Council would support if they could, but state law requires action from the General Assembly to make that happen.

Currently clean indoor air laws are becoming more common across the nation. Right now 330 municipalities have smoking bans. Fifteen states have banned smoking in public places altogether.

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