On Tuesday, May 2, the American Lung Association in Pennsylvania will host hundreds of youth and adult lung health and tobacco control advocates from TRU (Tobacco Resistance Unit) and PACT (Pennsylvania Alliance to Tobacco Control) at the annual Day at the Capitol. The event has been virtual since 2020 but returns to an on-site event this year and includes a press conference on the lawn of Soldier’s and Sailor’s Grove at noon. Additionally on the morning of the press conference, participants from across the state will meet with legislatures and urge them to act immediately in closing the loopholes in the Commonwealth’s Clean Indoor Air Act.
“Pennsylvania lags behind when it comes to tobacco control policies and Day at the Capitol gives us an important opportunity to work with our legislators and urge them to improve the health of our state through proven policies, such as closing the loopholes in the state’s Clean Indoor Act as well as preserving state funding for comprehensive tobacco prevention and control programs,” said Aimee Van Cleave, Advocacy Director of the American Lung Association.
Day at the Capitol takes place annually with TRU members from across Pennsylvania and other adult lung health advocates to educate lawmakers about current tobacco control issues. This year, advocates will focus on the need for comprehensive clean indoor air policies and continued tobacco control funding.
“All workers deserve to be protected from the harmful pollutants, including carcinogens, of secondhand smoke exposure. Unfortunately, Pennsylvania’s law still leaves many workers in the hospitality industry and their patrons exposed. Only by enacting comprehensive clean indoor air legislation can we give all Pennsylvania workers the protection they deserve,” said Van Cleave.
Comprehensive clean indoor air legislation would prohibit smoking in all indoor workplaces and public places, with no exceptions. A comprehensive clean indoor air law would protect all workers and the public from the harms of secondhand smoke and e-cigarette aerosol exposure and would provide a level playing field for all businesses across the Commonwealth.
Tobacco use remains the leading cause of preventable death and disease in the United States and in Pennsylvania. “To address this enormous toll, the American Lung Association calls for Pennsylvania’s elected officials to maintain level state funding for comprehensive tobacco prevention and control programs,” said VanCleave. In the annual State of Tobacco Control 2023 report, the Lung Association gave Pennsylvania an “F” for tobacco prevention and control funding and cites that the Commonwealth currently spends only 12.8% of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommended level to address these issues.
In Pennsylvania, adult smoking rates are 14.4% and high school tobacco use rates are 26.7%, with an estimated 22,010 per year smoking attributable deaths in the state, youth are becoming the next generation addicted to tobacco with more than 2.5 million high school and middle school students using e-cigarettes across the U.S.
The Day at the Capitol press conference will be held after the legislative visits on Tuesday, May 2 from noon to 12:30 p.m. Community members and media are invited to attend.