In recent months the Nevada Cancer Coalition has been working on the Smoke Free Meetings project, and exciting opportunity through partnership with the Washoe County Health District. The project is two-fold. First, we’re expanding the list of recognized indoor locations for smoke free meetings within Washoe County, Storey County and Carson City. Second, we’re encouraging businesses and organizations to voluntarily adopt a smoke free meetings policy, essentially committing to only host or sponsor meetings in smoke free indoor locations.
We’ll get to the exciting progress on our project, but first: Why are smoke free meetings important?
First off, there is no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke. In fact, since the 1964 Surgeon General’s Report, 2.5 million adults who were nonsmokers died because they breathed secondhand smoke. Here’s a look at just a few of the health risks associated with secondhand smoke exposure, as noted by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC):
- Nonsmokers who are exposed to secondhand smoke at home or at work increase their risk of developing lung cancer by 20 – 30%, increase risk of developing heart disease by 25 – 30%, and increase risk for stroke by 20 – 30%.
- Even brief secondhand smoke exposure can damage cells in ways that set the cancer process in motion
- Secondhand smoke causes more than7,300 lung cancer deaths, 8,000 stroke deaths, and nearly 34,000 premature deaths from heart disease each year in the United States among nonsmokers
More information on the effects of secondhand smoke is available from the CDC. In addition to reducing your own risk, smoke-free meeting locations fully embrace the idea of clean indoor air and smoke-free workplaces, which is a huge health benefit for all of those employees that work in those locations. (After all, could you imagine sitting at your desk breathing in smoky air for eight hours?) Study after study has shown that the implementation of indoor smoking bans correlates directly to a reduction in hospital admissions and ambulance calls for heart attacks and other coronary emergencies. In addition, smokers that work in smoke-free workplaces consume up to 15% fewer cigarettes and have a quit rate that is 84% higher than average, see here. The bottom line is that by supporting smoke-free meetings, you’re supporting the idea of clean indoor air for all, promoting health for yourself and your co-workers, and promoting health for workers and visitors of smoke free locations.
So what’s the status of Smoke Free Meetings in northern Nevada?
We began the project by seeking out and signing on new smoke free meeting and event venues to join a list of the 64 existing venues. To date we’ve increased the number of recognized smoke free meeting locations to 74. Meeting and event planners can choose from intimate spaces in downtown Reno or Sparks, theater-style rooms, banquet halls, and even ballroom space. The new additions to the smoke free meetings list include:
- Great Basin Community Food Cooperative
- Holiday Inn Express & Suites Reno Airport
- Hidden Valley Country Club
- Nevada Museum of Art
- Reno Elks Lodge
- Sparks Museum and Cultural Center
- UNR Redfield Campus, Building A
- University of Phoenix Reno Campus
- Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Northern Nevada
- Whitney Peak Hotel
Once the list of smoke free meeting venues was more robust we set out to encourage businesses and organizations to adopt the voluntary smoke free meetings policy. With so many locations to consider for meetings and events, we feel that implementing the policy is simpler now than ever before. In fact, we signed on Nevada Cancer Coalition as the first of our new policy adopters. The new Whitney Peak Hotel joined us along with Bristlecone Family Resources and The Children's Cabinet. In the coming months we are looking to more and more businesses and organizations to follow this lead and join the ranks of smoke free supporters. Thank you to all of the new recognized smoke free venues and policy adopters! If you’re ready to adopt a smoke free meetings policy or if you have a smoke free event venue to add to our growing list, click here for downloadable forms and more information.