For Immediate Release: June 30, 2009
Media Contact: Communication Office
BURLINGTON, VT – New legislation that goes in to effect July 1 will ban smoking in all Vermont workplaces. Vermont has been a national leader in legislation to restrict smoking in the workplace and eliminate smoking in public places, enacting the Smoking in the Workplace law in 1987 and Clean Indoor Air act in 1993.
The original workplace law provided for an exception that allowed employers to have designated smoking areas inside the workplace. The updated law reflects years of research on secondhand smoke that concluded there is no safe amount of secondhand smoke exposure, and that breathing even a little secondhand smoke can be dangerous.
While it is not clear how many Vermont employers currently have designated smoking areas, 21 percent of employees who work inside most of the time reported they breathed smoke from someone else’s cigarette at their workplace during the past week (2008 Adult Tobacco Survey).
“Experience in other states has clearly demonstrated the smoking bans at the worksite and in public places lead to immediate and prolonged decreases in heart attacks,” said Deputy Commissioner of Public Health Chris Finley. “With this change in the law, all Vermont employees will be protected from exposure inside the workplace.”
Many Vermonters have already chosen to quit smoking in recent years – an average of 17 percent of adults smoke now, compared to 22 percent in 1998. For those interested in quitting, the Vermont Quit Network offers free coaching, online support and access to nicotine replacement therapies. Call 1-800-QUIT-NOW (784-8669) or log onto VTQuitNetwork.org. Also available through the Health Department is the QUIT@WORK kit, to help employers link employees to free quit smoking resources.
Employers seeking more information on the Health Department Tobacco Control Program should visit: healthvermont.gov, or call 802-863-7270.