State public health officials announced today that Montana has the highest percentage of indoor workers covered by smokefree workplace policies in the nation.
Montana is followed by Washington, Oregon and Minnesota.
This is according to information published October 2017 in the journal Nicotine & Tobacco Research.
Department of Public Health and Human Services State Medical Officer Dr. Greg Holzman said this statistic is important given the amount of time individuals spend in the workplace.
“On average, 50 percent of your waking hours are spent at work,” Holzman said. “So, it’s terrific that Montanans don’t have to choose between their health and earning a living. A healthy work environment can make a big difference in a person’s life.”
Holzman added that secondhand smoke exposure can lead to heart disease, stroke and lung cancer in adults, causing an estimated 41,000 deaths among non-smoking Americans each year.
The percent of indoor workers who reported being covered by smokefree workplace policies in Montana increased from 75 percent in 2003 to 93 percent in 2010-2011. This increase can be largely attributed to the implementation of the Montana Clean Indoor Air Act (MCIAA) in 2005.
The report assessed changes in the proportion of indoor workers reporting being covered by smokefree workplace policies from 2003 to 2010-11 overall by occupation and by state.
Designed to protect Montanans from the health dangers of secondhand smoke, the MCIAA prohibits use of tobacco products in all enclosed public places and workplaces. Montana is among 17 other states in the nation that have 100 percent smokefree laws in non-hospitality workplaces, restaurants, bars and gambling venues.
In addition to protecting Montana’s indoor workers from conventional tobacco smoke, five counties in Montana have added e-cigarettes into their local smokefree laws to protect workers and the public from exposure to these products.
The content of e-cigarettes is not yet regulated, resulting in uncertainty as to what is in the aerosol released from these products. However, Vivek Murthy, former U.S. Surgeon General, states that e-cigarette aerosol is not as safe as clean air. Studies have shown that e-cigarette aerosol can contain nicotine, metals, ultrafine particles and cancer-causing chemicals. E-cigarette use also has the potential to involuntarily expose children and adolescents, pregnant women, and nonusers to numerous aerosolized substances.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health urge communities to take action to include e-cigarettes in local smokefree policies.
“The more communities that include e-cigarettes in their local smokefree policies, the more Montanans will be protected from the potential dangers of e-cigarette aerosol,” said Nicole Aune of the Montana Tobacco Use Prevention Program
Aune said Montana has done a great job protecting its residents from secondhand tobacco smoke. To further protect our communities from all secondhand smoke exposure, including e-cigarettes in smokefree laws is important as well.
For help quitting, call the Montana Tobacco Quit Line, a free service available to all Montanans who would like to quit using all tobacco products, including e-cigarettes. Calling the Quit Line is toll-free at 1-800-QUIT NOW (1-800-784-8669), or visit the website at www.QuitNowMontana.com to enroll.