The information posted on this website is not intended to be legal advice. Please consult state statutes or contact an attorney for more information about the Dee Johnson Clean Indoor Air Act (24-16-1 NMSA 1978).

Benefits of the Law

In the 2007 Legislative Session, New Mexico lawmakers passed the Dee Johnson Clean Indoor Air Act to protect the health of both the public and employees by reducing their exposure to secondhand smoke. The law creates a safer and healthier environment for employees, families and people statewide to enjoy New Mexico’s restaurants, bars and other indoor establishments.

This law, which took effect on June 15th, 2007, prohibits smoking in indoor public places and workplaces including stores, offices, bars, restaurants and other workplaces.

About Secondhand Smoke
Secondhand smoke is a combination of the smoke given off by the burning end of tobacco products and the smoke exhaled by smokers. Secondhand smoke contains a mixture of more than 4,000 chemicals, more than 60 of which cause cancer. The 2006 Surgeon General’s Report states that there is no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke.

The research is clear. No amount of exposure to secondhand smoke is safe. People exposed to secondhand smoke have higher rates of cancer, heart disease, breathing and lung problems, as well as developmental problems. There is strong scientific evidence that secondhand smoke causes:
• Lung cancer
• Nasal sinus cancer
• Heart disease
• Bronchitis and pneumonia in children
• Chronic respiratory symptoms in adults and children
• Eye and nasal irritation in adults
• Middle ear infections in children
• Low birth weight babies

Secondhand smoke kills 53,000 people each year. Most persons are exposed to secondhand smoke outside the home: at work, in restaurants, and other indoor places.
• More than 4,000 chemical compounds have been identified in tobacco smoke including formaldehyde, cyanide, carbon monoxide, ammonia and nicotine – of these, at least 69 are known to cause cancer in humans.
• For every 7 smokers who die from smoking, one non-smoker dies as a result of secondhand smoke exposure.

The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention recommends that people at risk for coronary heart disease should avoid indoor environments that permit smoking. In just a few minutes, secondhand smoke can do harm:
5 minutes: Your aorta (the main artery carrying blood from the heart) stiffens as much as smoking a cigarette. Your heart must work harder to pump blood.
20 minutes: Your blood platelets are like a pack-a-day smoker's. 'Sticky' platelets damage your heart and arteries, and can lead to blood clots.
30 minutes: Your coronary arteries show the same damage as a smoker. Your body's ability to handle LDL (bad) cholesterol is decreased.

Secondhand smoke impairs lung function and prevents many people from working or eating in a smoking-permitted indoor area.
• In New Mexico, 41,697 children suffer from pediatric asthma; another 215,310 cases of lung disease (adult asthma, bronchitis, emphysema, and lung cancer) exist in our state.
• Inhaling secondhand smoke causes bronchitis and pneumonia in children.
• Studies have shown that eliminating smoking indoors at the workplace has immediate benefits for respiratory health – even for smokers.

Benefits of Smoke-free Workplaces
The U.S. Surgeon General has concluded that adopting smoke-free workplace policies is a wise business decision. The results of all credible peer-reviewed studies show that smoke-free policies and regulations do not have a negative impact on business revenues. Establishing smoke-free workplaces is the simplest and most cost effective way to improve worker and business health.

For a fact sheet on the business costs of smoke-filled environments, please click here

Several studies show that smoke-free policies significantly reduce maintenance costs:
• The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that smoke-free restaurants can expect to save about $190 per 1,000 square feet each year in lower cleaning and maintenance costs. The EPA also estimates a savings of $4 billion to $8 billion per year in building operations and maintenance costs if comprehensive smoke-free indoor air policies are adopted nationwide.
• The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development estimates that construction and maintenance costs are seven percent higher in buildings that allow smoking than in buildings that are smoke-free.
• A 1993 survey of businesses conducted by the Building Owners and Management Association (BOMA) International found that the elimination of smoking from a building reduced cleaning expenses by an average of 10%. Smoking was also cited as the number one cause of fires on a BOMA fire safety survey.
• The National Fire Protection Association found that in 1998 smoking materials caused 8,700 fires in non-residential structures resulting in a direct property damage of $60.5 million. In a survey of cleaning and maintenance costs among 2,000 companies that adopted smoke-free policies, 60 percent reported reduced expenditures.
• After Unigard Insurance, near Seattle, Washington, went smoke-free, its maintenance contractor voluntarily reduced its fee by $500 per month because the cleaning staff no longer had to dump and clean ashtrays, dust desks, or clean carpets as frequently.
Source: “Business Costs in Smoke-Filled Environments,” August 2006. Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has developed a very useful booklet for business owners on making your business smoke-free, “Save Lives, Save Money: Make Your Business Smoke-Free.” The booklet can be downloaded here