SPRINGFIELD – To recognize the success of the Smoke-Free Illinois Act and those who have complied with and helped enforce the law, Governor Rod R. Blagojevich today announced the launch of an advertising campaign celebrating Illinois joining countries and cities around the world in restricting smoking in public places.
On January 1 of this year, Illinois became the 23rd state in the United States, and one of a rapidly growing number of areas in the world, to enact a smoke-free law. Billboard and mass transit advertising around the state will depict cities and countries that have no-smoking laws, along with a picture from Illinois with the tagline: “You’re in Good Company When You Go Smoke-Free.”
“I want to thank the people of Illinois who have supported the Smoke-Free Illinois Act and encourage them to keep up the good work,” said Governor Blagojevich. “People visiting or working in restaurants, bars and other public places no longer have to worry about the health risks caused by secondhand smoke. This is just another example of how we are working to make the State of Illinois a healthier place to live.”
A recent poll conducted by the Illinois Coalition Against Tobacco found that Illinois voters overwhelmingly support the Smoke-Free Illinois Act, with nearly three out of four (73 percent) responding that they support the law, and 62 percent expressing strong support.
“I’m pleased with the way the state has taken pride in and embraced the Smoke-Free law,” said Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Damon T. Arnold. “The law is saving lives and helping shift the public attitude about smoking from acceptable to unacceptable. Our department will continue to work with local officials to ensure the law is followed.”
The Smoke-Free Illinois Act prohibits smoking in public places, places of employment and government vehicles. In addition, smoking is not permitted within 15 feet of any entrance to a public place or place of employment.
Inhaling secondhand smoke can cause premature death and diseases in children and adults who do not smoke. It causes lung cancer and coronary heart disease in healthy non-smoking adults and increases the risk of serious respiratory problems in children, such as a greater number and severity of asthma attacks and lower respiratory tract infections.
Every year in Illinois, exposure to secondhand smoke kills 2,900 non-smoking adults and children. Secondhand smoke is similar to smoke inhaled by the smoker, in that it is a complex mixture containing many chemicals including formaldehyde, cyanide, carbon monoxide, ammonia, and nicotine – many of which are known to cause cancer, according to a 2006 report of the U.S. Surgeon General on “The Health Consequences of Involuntary Exposure to Tobacco Smoke.”
This past June, the World Health Organization issued a report stating that no-smoking laws are an effective way of preventing heart disease, getting cigarette users to quit and protecting children from smoke, saying there is enough evidence to prove that smoke-free policies work without hurting businesses, such as restaurants and bars.
California was the first state to restrict smoking, enacting a smoke-free law in 1998. The number of people who smoke in that state has dropped 32.5 percent since the law went into effect, and lung cancer cases have dropped faster there than anywhere in the country. Studies have also looked at heart attack rates in cities that have enacted no-smoking laws and found dramatic drops. For example, in the first 18 months after Pueblo, Colorado
enacted a law making public places smoke-free in 2003, hospital admissions for heart attacks dropped 27 percent. In Helena, Montana, which imposed a smoke-free workplace and public places law during 2002, a study showed that in the six months after the law began, admissions to the local hospital for acute myocardial infarction decreased 40 percent compared to the six months prior.
For more information on the Smoke-Free Illinois Act, visit www.Smoke-Free.Illinois.gov. People can also use the Web site to lodge a complaint about a business or individual violating the law. For smokers looking for help to quit, the Department funds a toll-free help line at 866-QUIT-YES.