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CDC Study: Nevada Number One for Secondhand Smoke Exposure

PHOTO: Nevada ranks first in the nation for residents' exposure to secondhand smoke, according to new data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Photo courtesy CDC.
PHOTO: Nevada ranks first in the nation for residents' exposure to secondhand smoke, according to new data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Photo courtesy CDC.
January 29, 2014

RENO, Nevada - Living and working in Nevada may mean breathing more secondhand smoke than in any other state in the nation.

A study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ranks Nevada first in the nation for secondhand smoke exposure, said Dr. John Packham, director of health policy research at the University of Nevada School of Medicine. In the research, slightly more than two-thirds of Nevadans said they'd been exposed to secondhand smoke within the previous week.

The chief cause, Packham said, is that smoking still is allowed in casinos.

"The fact of the matter is," he said, "with the casino exemption to the Clean Indoor Air Act, that's at least 90,000 to 100,000 workers in the state of Nevada that are still exposed to smoke in the workplace."

Packham said many casino workers breathe secondhand smoke on a daily basis and may have little choice if they can't find another job. He said he hopes Nevada follows other states, which now only grant gaming licenses to nonsmoking casinos.

Another factor, Packham said, is that Nevada has one of the nation's highest rates of adult smokers. About one in five Nevadans lights up, which increases the amount of airborne secondhand smoke. Packham said secondhand smoke is not quite as harmful as smoking, but medical research shows that it can still be deadly.

"Secondhand smoke is a known risk for stroke and cardiovascular disease and heart disease," he said.

Packham said there are documented cases of ambulance calls to casinos dropping by more than 20 percent after a smoking ban has taken effect.

The report is online at cdc.gov.

Troy Wilde, Public News Service - NV