|NCI Announces New Smoke-free Meeting Policy to Address Major
Public Health Hazard
The National Cancer Institute (NCI), part of the National Institutes of Health,
today announced a new policy requiring that all meetings and conferences organized
or primarily sponsored by NCI be held in a state, county, city, or town that
has adopted a comprehensive smoke-free policy, unless specific circumstances
justify an exemption. NCI’s policy is based on extensive scientific data, summarized
recently in the U.S. Surgeon General’s report, The Health Consequences of
Involuntary Exposure to Tobacco Smoke, indicating that secondhand smoke (also known as environmental
tobacco smoke) causes premature death and disease in children and in adults who
do not smoke.
Surgeon General Richard Carmona, M.D., declared that exposure to secondhand
smoke remains “a serious public health hazard,” and that there is no safe level
of exposure. Research shows that many thousands of adult nonsmokers have died
from lung cancer caused by exposure to secondhand smoke. In addition, each year,
exposure to secondhand smoke causes an estimated 30,000 to 60,000 cardiovascular
deaths in nonsmoking adults as well as serious illness in infants and young children.
The Surgeon General noted that while much progress has been made since the 1980s
in reducing exposure to involuntary smoking, more than 126 million Americans
are still exposed to secondhand smoke. With its new meeting policy, NCI seeks
to raise the public’s awareness of the importance of protecting adults and children
from secondhand smoke exposure. Effective January 1, 2007, the policy will impact
the many NCI-sponsored or organized meetings of 20 or more attendees that occur
NCI has developed a Web site to support meeting planning in smoke-free jurisdictions
at http://dccps.cancer.gov/tcrb/smokefreemeetingpolicy.html. The site will feature an interactive
tool (available in fall 2006) to 1) help NCI employees locate smoke-free venues
based on the latest smoking policy information for states, counties, and cities;
2) monitor the implementation of the policy; 3) respond to staff inquiries; and
4) document exceptions to the policy.
“NCI seeks to recognize the contribution of states, counties, cities and towns
that have chosen to protect the public, including employees, from secondhand
smoke exposure,” said Robert Croyle, Ph.D., director of NCI's Division of Cancer
Control and Population Sciences. “We hope this policy will encourage other states
and cities to do likewise.”
The new smoke-free policy does not apply to meetings or conferences for which
NCI is not the sole or primary organizer or sponsor and where location arrangements
have already been made. There will be certain circumstances under which a meeting
is exempt from this policy. These circumstances include the need to hold a meeting
in coordination with one that is not sponsored by NCI yet takes place in a location
that is not yet smoke free, and the need to conduct site visits to institutions
located in places that are not yet smoke free, among other reasons.
Copies of The Health Consequences of Involuntary Exposure to Tobacco Smoke:
A Report of the Surgeon General and related materials are available on the Surgeon
General’s Web site at www.surgeongeneral.gov/library/secondhandsmoke.
For more information about cancer, please visit the NCI Web site at http://www.cancer.gov,
or call NCI's Cancer Information Service at 1-800-4 CANCER (1-800-422-6237).
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) — The Nation's Medical Research
Agency — includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of
the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. It is the primary federal
agency for conducting and supporting basic, clinical and translational medical
research, and it investigates the causes, treatments, and cures for both common
and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit www.nih.gov.