SAMHSA Announces New Smoke-Free Meeting Policy

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) recently announced a new policy requiring that all meetings and conferences organized or primarily sponsored by SAMHSA be held in a state, county, city, or town that has adopted a comprehensive smoke-free policy, unless specific circumstances justify an exemption. This policy is based on extensive scientific data, summarized in the U.S. Surgeon General’s report, "The Health Consequences of Involuntary Exposure to Tobacco Smoke," www.surgeongeneral.gov/library/secondhandsmoke, indicating that secondhand smoke (also known as environmental tobacco smoke) causes premature death and disease in children and in adults who do not smoke.

"SAMHSA recognizes that secondhand smoke exposure poses serious health risks to nonsmokers. An estimated 50,000 nonsmoking Americans die each year as a result of exposure to secondhand smoke," said SAMHSA Administrator Terry L. Cline, Ph.D. "This Smoke-Free Conference Policy will help protect our employees and other conference participants from the adverse effects associated with secondhand smoke."

In adopting the Smoke-Free Conference Policy, SAMHSA joins three other federal agencies which have already implemented this policy -- the National Cancer Institute, National Institute on Drug Abuse, and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

To identify smoke-free jurisdictions, SAMHSA conference planners will be using the list of smoke-free jurisdictions found at http://meetings.smokefree.gov.

The new smoke-free policy does not apply to meetings or conferences for which SAMHSA 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.

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