Freedom to Breathe Celebrates Five Years
[MMA News Now, Oct. 4, 2012] On Oct. 1, Minnesota celebrated the fifth anniversary of the Freedom to Breathe Act, a piece of legislation championed by the MMA that prohibited smoking in indoor workplaces (including bars and restaurants) and on public transportation.
According to a 2011 survey by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Minnesota 79 percent of Minnesotans support the law and 86 percent believe smoke-free restaurants and bars are healthier for customers and employees.
| || |
"The passage of the Freedom to Breathe Act changed the culture of smoking." - Dan Maddox, M.D.
“The passage of the Freedom to Breathe Act changed the culture of smoking completely,” said Dan Maddox, M.D. and MMA president. “Today, people are shocked when they smell the odor of cigarettes in an inside space. That was not the case just five years ago. As an allergist, I have patients who can now go to any restaurant in the state and not have to worry about their ability to breathe because of the presence of tobacco smoke.”
The MMA first began working to eliminate smoking in workplaces in the 1970s. In 2000, the MMA officially focused on the restaurant and bar aspect. The effort to pass a comprehensive smoke-free bill came more than 30 years after Minnesota passed the nation’s first clean-indoor-air law in 1975, which created smoking and non-smoking sections in most indoor public buildings.
Here are other milestones in Minnesota’s anti-smoking movement:
• 1974 - Minnesota is the first state to promote a day without smoking.
• 1975 - The state passes the Minnesota Clean Indoor Air Act, requiring separate sections in restaurants for smokers and non-smokers.
• 1985 - Minnesota becomes the first state to earmark a portion of the state cigarette excise tax to support smoking prevention programs.
• 1994 - The state, together with Blue Cross/Blue Shield Minnesota, sue tobacco companies for violating anti-trust laws by failing to disclose addictive qualities of tobacco.
• 1998 – The tobacco industry makes a $6.1 billion settlement with Minnesota and Blue Cross/Blue Shield.
MMA was part of a broad coalition that worked to pass the Freedom to Breathe law. Others included: Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota, the American Lung Association of Minnesota, ClearWay Minnesota, the American Cancer Society and the Service Employees International Union.