SECONDHAND SMOKE: CULTURAL NORM CHANGE

May 02, 2019

How did we get to this point?

Information sourced from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: https://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/data_statistics/fact_sheets/secondhand_smoke/general_facts/index.htm

Tobacco use has been part of American culture since the colonial era. By the mid-twentieth century, Americans began recognizing the potential harms caused by using tobacco. Over time, the risk to those exposed to secondhand smoke became more prominent too. In response, the U.S. adult smoking rate has dropped significantly in the last 55 years. From 1964 to 2017, the U.S. adult smoking rate dropped from 42% to 14%. With increased awareness of the harms of secondhand smoke, community members began looking for a reprieve. To spur culture norm changes and protect the public’s health, public health institutions and governments partnered with community members and organizations to create smoke free policies. These policies aimed to protect workers and those enjoying public places by banning the use of combustible tobacco (cigarettes, pipes, hookahs, etc.) indoors.

In Lincoln, the first indoor smoking ordinance was passed in 2004. The state of Nebraska followed with the Nebraska Clean Indoor Air Act in 2008. Since then, the Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department has worked to support the adoption of comprehensive voluntary smoke-free policies by businesses, schools, multi-unit housing complexes, and outdoor recreational areas. Today, the perception is that we can live, work, and play in safe environments with clean air. Exposure to secondhand smoke is considered unacceptable to most – both indoors and out. When a problem arises, there is less hesitation to speak out and seek help. To support healthy environments, the Health Department provides education and resources to those affected by secondhand smoke. Protect your health and the health of those around you, continue speaking out about the need to clear the air.