Clean Indoor Air Laws
- On January 11, 1971, US Surgeon General Jesse Steinfeld, MD, issued a Nonsmokers Bill of Rights at a meeting of the Interagency Council on Smoking and Health on the seventh anniversary of Dr. Luther Terry’s release of the first Surgeon General’s report on smoking, “Evidence is accumulating that the nonsmoker may have untoward effects from the pollution his smoking neighbor forces on him,” Steinfeld noted. “Nonsmokers have as much right to clean and wholesome air as smokers have to their so-called right to smoke, which I would redefine as a ‘right to pollute.’ It is high time to ban smoking from all confined public places such as restaurants, theaters, airplanes, trains, and buses. It is time that we interpret the Bill of Rights for the Nonsmoker as well as the smoker.” (Steinfeld JL: Women and children last. NY State J Medicine 1983; 83:1257-1258)
In 1973, Arizona became the first state to restrict smoking in government buildings, health facilities, and other public places. Two years later, Representative Phyllis Kahn introduced The Minnesota Clean Indoor Air Act, the first statewide law in the nation to require separate smoking areas in public places. The Association for Nonsmokers–Minnesota (ANSR), founded by Jeanne Weigum, mobilized public support for the measure and continues in the forefront of creating tobacco-free environments.
- In a landmark 1976 case, Shimp v. New Jersey Bell Telephone Company, Donna Shimp, of Salem, NJ, sued her employer for the right to be free from exposure to secondhand smoke in her workplace. The company had banned smoking around sensitive telephone equipment but not around fellow employees. The ruling in her favor by the New Jersey Superior Court led to the prohibition of smoking in the company’s offices and set a legal precedent. California Group Against Smoking Pollution GASP), founded in 1976, became a national resource for clean indoor air legislation, and in 1988 changed its name to Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights. Pioneering GASP groups established in the 1970s include those in Colorado and Massachusetts, and Bowie Maryland and Miami, Florida.
- In 1981 Lyndon Sanders opened the 134-room Non-Smokers Inn in Dallas, Texas, the nation’s first entirely smokefree hotel.In 2005 Westin Hotels & Resorts became the first major American hotel chain to go smoke-free. By 2013 the American Hotel & Lodging Association reported that two-thirds of hotels are smokefree, although only 39% of economy hotels have banned smoking.
- “The debate is over,” declared Surgeon General Richard Carmona, MD at a press conference to announce publication of Health Consequences of Involuntary Exposure to Tobacco Smoke. Second-hand smoke is “a serious health hazard that causes premature death and disease in children and nonsmoking adults.”