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Monday, December 6, 2010

New Research Provides Evidence That Freedom to Breathe Act Improves Health without Causing Economic Harm

American Journal of Preventive Medicine Highlights Minnesota Tobacco Research

New research released in the December 2010 supplement to the American Journal of Preventive Medicine (AJPM) concludes that Minnesota’s statewide smoke-free law has not adversely affected bar and restaurant employment. The research adds to the growing body of evidence on the Freedom to Breathe Act’s success and offers the first analysis of independent data from the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development.

Research conducted at the University of Minnesota found no statistically significant changes in bar and restaurant employment statewide or regionally after the smoke-free law was implemented. “These findings are significant because employment data is a key indicator of economic impact,” said David Willoughby, CEO of ClearWay MinnesotaSM. “We now know that the Freedom to Breathe Act significantly improved health without imposing an economic burden on the hospitality industry.”

A second study highlighted in AJPM found that air pollution from secondhand smoke particles in bars and restaurants decreased by more than 95 percent after implementation of the law. Conducted by the Center for Energy and Environment, these findings offer further proof that comprehensive smoke-free laws offer immediate protection to workers and customers from the dangerous particles found in secondhand smoke.

This issue of AJPM features nine original articles from ClearWay Minnesota-funded research grantees, two review articles and commentaries by U.S. Senator Al Franken and Dr. Brad Hesse of the National Cancer Institute.

The studies highlighted in the supplement add to the already significant research on the success of this landmark health policy. Past research has shown that hospitality workers are healthier thanks to the Freedom to Breathe Act. According to a 2008 study conducted by the University of Minnesota Cancer Center, Minnesota’s smoke–free law reduced exposure to cancer-causing carcinogens in nonsmoking hospitality workers by 85 percent. In addition, a one-year anniversary public opinion poll showed 77 percent of Minnesotans supported the statewide smoke-free law, of which 41 percent strongly supported the law.

Since 2000, ClearWay Minnesota has awarded more than $17 million in grants to Minnesota researchers. The impact of ClearWay Minnesota-funded research has been felt well beyond Minnesota’s borders and has significantly contributed to the science base in the field of tobacco control.

For more information and the full research supplement, please visit

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