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Lung advocates call on lawmakers to protect Pennsylvanians’ lungs

Lung advocates with the American Lung Association will gather at the Capitol today to call on legislators to close the loopholes in the Clean Indoor Air Act.

HARRISBURG, Pa. — The Clean Indoor Air Act (CIAA) was passed in June 2008. It prohibits smoking in a public place or workplace. 

The bill allows exceptions for a private residence, a private social function or a business with a smoking permit. Lung advocates with the American Lung Association will gather at the Capitol today to call on legislators to close the loopholes in the CIAA.

According to the American Lung Association, tobacco use remains one of the leading causes of death and disease across the nation and in the state. 

High school tobacco use is at a rate of 26.7%. Over 300 youths with the Tobacco Resistance Unit (TRU) and Pennsylvania Alliance to Tobacco Control (PACT) will rally at the "Day at the Capitol" event today.

Seventeen year old Janice Baldwin, a Harrisburg TRU Ambassador and student a Bishop Devott High School, said that many of her peers fall victim to using e-cigarettes and tobacco due to peer pressure. She is hoping that the CIAA could close the loopholes to limit exposure to second-hand smoke and pressure to vape.

“You see your friends smoking something you might end up going towards it and it just becomes a whole community of bad habits,” said Baldwin.

Her decision to join TRU was to let her peers know that the organization is able to help and not shame others. The TRU organization is a group of students in high schools across Pennsylvania that sign a pledge to not use any tobacco products and advocate for healthy lungs.

For Benjamin Mulvey, who is also a TRU Ambassador for Pennsylvania, the initiative to limit exposure to second-hand smoking and vaping is personal. Mulvey lost several family members to lung cancer.

“It is very personal to me to not only make a difference in the lives of peers who are 16 and 17 years old but to make a difference in the lives of all the residents in the commonwealth of Pennsylvania,” said Mulvey.

Advocates are asking lawmakers to close the loopholes in the CIAA to eliminate secondhand exposure. Aimee VanCleave, director of advocacy with the ALA, says there are more than 1,300 establishments in the state that have exemptions from the CIAA.

“The Clean Indoor Air policies still allow e-cigarettes, so workers in those venues are exposed to second-hand smoke and they don’t have to be,” said VanCleave. “It’s pretty easy to make their workplace safer for them because no one should have to choose between their health and a paycheck.” 

The Day at the Capitol event takes place at Soldier’s Grove, which is across from the Capitol fountain, at 7:30 a.m. this morning. A number of speakers, organizers and representatives will be in attendance. 

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