It's been 10 years since it became illegal to smoke cigarettes in nearly all public buildings in New York state. The Clean Indoor Air Act has surely saved lives, but more work remains to be done to cut down on the number of people who haven't quit smoking yet, and the ones who pick up the habit before they even realize it's a habit.
There's no doubt that the clean air act has been a win for public health. There are about 5 percent fewer smokers statewide than there were in 2002; more smokers than ever are making efforts to try to quit; and offices, restaurants and bars are now free of the haze of cigarette smoke that non-smokers had for decades been unable to avoid.
There is still more to be done. Cayuga County officials recently discussed making county office properties entirely smoke-free, following the lead of public and private building managers who have been pushing smokers farther and farther away from entryways, where smokers began congregating after being forced outdoors.
In celebration of the 10-year anniversary of the Clean Indoor Air Act, the Cayuga Community Health Network is distributing signs to area businesses promoting smoke-free environments and urging retailers to minimize tobacco marketing so that it's less visible to children.
The less second-hand smoke that people are exposed to, the better. And creating an environment where fewer young people pick up the habit will help make Cayuga County, and all of New York, a place where fewer people suffer the negative health effects of smoking.