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Tob Control. Mar 2002; 11(1): 26–34.
PMCID: PMC1747656

Application of a rating system to state clean indoor air laws (USA)


Objective: To develop and implement a system for rating state clean indoor air laws.

Design: The public health interest of state clean indoor air laws is to limit non-smoker exposure to environmental tobacco smoke (ETS). Current estimates of health risks and methods available for controlling ETS provided a framework for devising a ratings scale. An advisory committee applied this scale to each of seven site specific smoking restrictions and two enforcement related items. For each item, a target score of +4 was identified. The nine items were then combined to produce a summary score for each state. A state that achieved the target across all nine items would receive a summary score of 36 points and be eligible to receive an additional 6 points for exceeding the target on six of the nine items, resulting in a maximum summary score of 42 points. Individual scores were also adjusted to reflect state level preemption measures. Each state's law was evaluated annually from 1993 through 1999.

Setting: USA.

Main outcome measure: A summary score measuring the extensiveness of the state's clean indoor air law.

Results: State laws restricting smoking in the seven individual locations of interest were relatively weak. The overall mean score across the location restrictions ranged from 0.72 in 1993 to 0.98 in 1999. Mean scores were higher for the enforcement items than for the location restrictions. Summary scores ranged from 0 to 20 in 1993 and 0 to 31 in 1994 through 1999. Average summary scores ranged from 8.71 in 1993 to 10.98 in 1999. By the end of 1999, scores increased for 22 states; however, between 1995 and 1997 there were no changes in the summary scores. Three states scored zero points across all years. From 1993 through 1999, there was a 41% increase in the number of states that had in place state level preemption measures.

Conclusion: The number of newly enacted state clean indoor air laws has remained relatively stagnant since 1995. With a few exceptions, as of the end of 1999, progress in enacting state laws to meet specified public health targets for reducing exposure to ETS was relatively low. Thus, state laws in the USA provide, on average, only minimal protection in specified areas and, given the increase in preemption, are increasingly undermining those passed in localities.

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