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Introduction: Important public health policy decisions must be based on reliable epidemiologic studies and evidence-based medicine. In the effort to ban smoking in the workplace, there must be clear evidence from the constituency that such laws are desired. Current Vermont law states: "Employers may designate up to 30 percent of an employee cafeteria or lounge as a smoking area and may permit smoking in designated unenclosed areas only if … smoking will not be a physical irritant to any non-smoking employee, and 75 percent of the employees in the designated areas agree to allow smoking." State legislators must address this issue for several reasons: * Long term effects including lung cancer, emphysema, heart and neurologic disease. * Secondhand smoke contains at least 250 chemicals known to be toxic, including more than 50 that can cause cancer. * The total cost of secondhand smoke exposure in the U.S. at $10 billion annually, $5 billion in direct medical costs, and $5 billion in indirect costs such as lost productivity. * Methods to reduce the effect of secondhand smoke, such as ventilators are ineffective. * One study found a 17% increased risk of developing lung cancer with smoking exposure in the workplace. Regardless, Vermonters continue to smoke; as of 2007, 18% of Vermont’s adults were smokers. Such information is important in making legislative decisions that affect the entire Vermont population


Gerald Davis, MD, University of Vermont College of Medicine

Rebecca Ryan, MEd, Vermont Lung Association


Vermont Lung Association


Environmental Health


Presented at the American Public Health Association (APHA) Annual Meeting, Philadelphia, PA; November 8, 2009 as "Public Perceptions of Smoking in the Workplace," by Jessica Barry, Jennifer Kneppar, Timothy Salib, Jonothan Severy, Bennett Shapiro, Kathryn Skelly, Kara Tweady, Rebecca Ryan, Gerald Davis, MD and Jan K. Carney, MD MPH.

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Public Perceptions of Smoking in the Workplace