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Improving Air Quality in Your Community

Indoor Air: Reduce Exposure to Environmental Tobacco Smoke (ETS)

Information provided for informational purposes onlyNote: EPA no longer updates this information, but it may be useful as a reference or resource.

You can help reduce emissions of hazardous air pollutants (HAPs) that may affect workers, residents, neighborhoods, and the community by conducting the following activities:

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Sponsor a Smoke-Free Home Pledge Campaign

  • What It Is
    • A Smoke-Free Home Pledge Campaign is an outreach effort to encourage people to designate their homes as "smoke-free."
    • This campaign can work to protect children as well as adults from the health risks of environmental tobacco smoke (ETS).
    • The Smoke-Free Home Pledge Campaign may be used in conjunction with a comprehensive tobacco-use reduction program that includes a mix of activities aimed at support for smoking cessation and protection from exposure to ETS.
    • This type of campaign may also be a broader home indoor air quality campaign.
  • How to Sponsor a Smoke-Free Home Pledge Campaign
    • Hold a Smoke-Free Home Pledge Campaign Drive during other related events such as a at health fairs, sporting events, and school activities or meetings.
    • Along with information related to the campaign, offer information about the health impacts of ETS in the home. Maintain a booth or table with this information at public places such as libraries, community centers, or public buildings.
  • May help to reduce the incidents of sickness in children such as bronchitis, pneumonia, ear infections, asthma attacks, wheezing and coughing, and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).
  • May help to reduce the numbers of asthma attacks and coughing, wheezing, and respiratory illness in adults.
  • Publicity, labor, and other costs to support the Smoke-Free Home Pledge Campaign.
  • EPA, the American Lung Association, and other organizations may provide awareness materials at no cost.
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Encourage Smoke-Free Policies in Schools and Child Care Settings

  • Smoke-Free Policies
    • A smoke-free policy effectively protects children from exposure to environmental tobacco smoke (ETS). EPA recommends implementing this policy at every organization that deals with children.
    • School-based non-smoking policies are important because the school environment should be free from ETS for health reasons and because teachers and staff are role models for children.
  • Smoke-Free Educational Programs
    • Key features of a smoke-free education program include
      • Multiple sessions over many grades
      • Social and physiological consequences of tobacco use
      • Information about social influences (e.g., peers, parents, and media)
      • Training in refusal skills
    • The effectiveness of school-based smoking prevention programs appears to be enhanced and sustained by comprehensive school health education and by community-wide programs that involve parents, mass media, community organizations, or other elements of an adolescent's social environment.
  • May reduce exposure of children to ETS.
  • Time and effort to identify and reach out to schools and child care providers.
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Encourage Smoke-Free Workplaces

  • Many possible smoking policies exist, but only two are viable in today's social and scientific environment. They are:
    • Smoke-Free - A smoke-free environment in company facilities and vehicles can be extended to include the property or grounds of the employer.
    • Separately ventilated areas - Employers can limit smoking to smoking rooms that are separately ventilated from the rest of the building.
  • Things to consider when developing a smoke-free policy:
    • Given the employees' interests, health, and work environment, what policy will provide them the most protection?
    • What policy will offer the greatest benefits to the company at the lowest cost?
    • What policy will management find most supportable?
    • What community ordinances exist governing smoking in public places or workplaces?
    • What are the customers' or the community's expectations regarding environmental tobacco smoke (ETS), given the policies in other similar workplaces and public sentiments regarding secondhand smoke?
    • Remember that communication is important to allay any misconceptions about a smoke-free workplace. Companies can also demonstrate its commitment to employees who smoke by offering help for them to quit.
  • Smoke-free Policy Implementation
    • Assess the current situation.
    • Decide on an ETS policy and develop a plan to implement it.
    • Communicate with employees and management.
    • Announce and manage the policy.
  • May reduce exposure to employees.
  • May reduce illnesses related to ETS in the workplace.
  • May reduce worker absenteeism due to ETS-related illnesses.
  • May reduce costs for employers, such as reduced healthcare costs, lower maintenance costs, and lower risk of fires.
  • Inconvenience to employees who smoke.
  • Lost work time: if not properly managed, smokers may be disproportionately absent from their work stations.
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