IAQ Tools for Schools
IAQ Reference Guide
Appendix F - Secondhand Smoke
EPA has classified secondhand smoke as a known cause of cancer in humans (Group A carcinogen). Passive smoking causes an estimated 3,000 lung cancer deaths in nonsmokers each year. It also causes irritation of the eyes, nose, throat, and lungs. ETS-induced irritation of the lungs leads to excess phlegm, coughing, chest discomfort, and reduced lung function. Secondhand smoke may also affect the cardiovascular system, and some studies have linked exposure to it with the onset of chest pain.
Secondhand smoke Effects on Children
Secondhand smoke is a serious health risk to children. Children whose parents smoke are among the most seriously affected by exposure to secondhand smoke, being at increased risk of lower respiratory tract infections such as pneumonia and bronchitis. EPA estimates that passive smoking is responsible for between 150,000 and 300,000 lower respiratory tract infections in infants and children under 18 months of age annually, resulting in 7,500 to 15,000 hospitalizations per year.
Children exposed to secondhand smoke are also more likely to have reduced lung function and symptoms of respiratory irritation like coughing, excess phlegm, and wheezing. Passive smoking can lead to a buildup of fluid in the middle ear, the most common cause of hospitalization of children for an operation.
Asthmatic children are especially at risk. EPA estimates that exposure to secondhand smoke increases the number of episodes and severity of symptoms in between 200,000 and 1,000,000 asthmatic children. Passive smoking is also a risk factor for the development of asthma in thousands of children each year.
EPA recommends that every organization dealing with children have a smoking policy that effectively protects children from exposure to secondhand smoke. Parent-teacher associations, school board members, and school administrators should work together to make school environments smoke-free. Key features of smoking education programs include multiple sessions over many grades, social and physiological consequences of tobacco use, information about social influences (peers, parents, and media), and training in refusal skills. School-based non-smoking policies are important because the school environment should be free from secondhand smoke for health reasons and because teachers and staff are role models for children.
In general, the Federal government does not have regulatory authority over indoor air or secondhand smoke policies at the state or local level. Restricting smoking in public places is primarily a state and local issue, and is typically addressed in clean indoor air laws enacted by states, counties, and municipalities. However, the "Pro-Children Act of 1994" prohibits smoking in Head Start facilities and in kindergarten, elementary, and secondary schools that receive Federal funding from the Department of Education, the Department of Agriculture, or the Department of Health and Human Services (except funding from Medicare or Medicaid). The Act was signed into law as part of the "Goals 2000: Educate America Act."
What follows are excerpts from the Act, which took effect December 26, 1994.
Pro-Children Act of 1994
Following are excerpts from Public Law 103-227, March 31, 1994.
Section 1042. Definitions.
(1) CHILDREN. The term "children" means individuals who have not attained the age of 18.
(2) CHILDREN’S SERVICES. The term "children’s services" means the provision on a routine or regular basis of health, day care, education, or library services —
(A) That are funded, after the date of the enactment of this Act, directly by the Federal government or through state or local governments, by Federal grant, loan, loan guarantee, or contract programs —
(i) Administered by either the Secretary of Health and Human Services or the Secretary of Education (other than services provided and funded solely under titles XVIII and XIX of the Social Security Act); or
(ii) Administered by the Secretary of Agriculture in case of a clinic; or
(B) That are provided in indoor facilities that are constructed, operated, or maintained with such Federal funds, as determined by the appropriate Secretary in any enforcement action under this title, except that nothing in clause (ii) of subparagraph (A) is intended to include facilities (other than clinics) where coupons are redeemed under the Child Nutrition Act of 1966.
(3) PERSON. The term "person" means any state or local subdivision thereof, agency of such state or subdivision, corporation, or partnership that owns or operates or otherwise controls and provides children’s services or any individual who owns or operates or otherwise controls and provides such services.
SEC. 1043. NONSMOKING POLICY FOR CHILDREN’S SERVICES.
(a) PROHIBITION. After the date of the enactment of this Act, no person shall permit smoking within any indoor facility owned or leased or contracted for and utilized by such person for provision of routine or regular kindergarten, elementary, or secondary education or library services to children.
(b) ADDITIONAL PROHIBITION. After the date of the enactment of this Act, no person shall permit smoking within any indoor facility (or portion thereof) owned or leased or contracted for and utilized by such person of regular or routine health care or day care or early childhood development (Head Start) services to children or for the use of the employees of such person who provides such services.
(c) FEDERAL AGENCIES.
(1) KINDERGARTEN, ELEMENTARY, OR SECONDARY EDUCATION, OR LIBRARY SERVICES. After the date of the enactment of this Act, no Federal agency shall permit smoking within any indoor facility in the United States operated by such agency, directly or by contract, to provide routine or regular kindergarten, elementary, or secondary education or library services to children.
(e) SPECIAL WAIVER.
(1) IN GENERAL. On receipt of an application, the head of the Federal agency may grant a special waiver to a person described in subsection (a) who employs individuals who are members of a labor organization and provide children’s services pursuant to a collective bargaining agreement that —
(A) Took effect before the date of enactment of this Act; and
(B) Includes provisions relating to smoking privileges that are in violation of the requirements of this section.
(2) TERMINATION OF WAIVER. A special waiver granted under this subsection shall terminate on the earlier of —
(A) The first expiration date (after the date of enactment of this Act) of the collective bargaining agreement containing the provisions relating to smoking privileges; or
(B) The date that is 1 year after the date of the enactment of this Act.
(f) CIVIL PENALTIES.
(1) IN GENERAL. Any failure to comply with a prohibition in this section shall be a violation of this section and any person subject to such prohibition who commits such violation, or may be subject to an administrative compliance order, or both, as determined by the Secretary. Each day a violation continues shall constitute a separate violation.