Cigarette smoking is the greatest preventable cause of disease and premature death in the United States. Secondhand smoke causes numerous lung cancer deaths annually. Measures have been taken in both workplaces and public places to limit exposure to secondhand smoke. The economic cost of smokers to society is phenomenal. It includes monetary costs, lost workdays and shortened work lives. Many states are establishing and maintaining comprehensive tobacco-control programs to reduce tobacco use. They provide education to our youth to prevent them from ever starting and smoking cessation programs for individuals that currently wish to stop smoking. Education and support are known ways to eventually prevent smoking in the future. .
Efforts to increase the public perception of the harmful effects of tobacco must utilize a comprehensive approach that affects policy development, education strategies and health care systems. Smoking is becoming more and more unfashionable as time goes on. There are many studies conducted showing that secondhand smoke is a health hazard to both the smoker and anyone that relies on the same air supply, not to mention the unpleasantness and discomfort it causes those that do not smoke. The Environmental Protection Agency reports that it is estimated that secondhand smoke that emerges from exhaling and burning cigarettes causes approximately 3,000 lung cancer deaths and 37,000 heart disease deaths in nonsmokers each year. (Nolo, 2002). According to a 1998 Gallop poll, 94% of Americans, including both smokers and nonsmokers, agree that companies should either ban or restrict smoking to properly ventilated areas. Another Gallop poll indicates that 95% of nonsmokers, and 69% of smokers, think California's ban on smoking in almost all workplaces is positive. Some companies are now refusing to hire anyone who admits to smoking on a job application because of higher healthcare insurance, absenteeism, unemployment insurance and workers' compensation insurance associated with these individuals.