Business, labour and health groups unite for provincial smoke-free workplace legislation

    EDMONTON, April 18 /CNW/ - Today, representatives from major business,
labour and health organizations announced their joint support for provincial
smoke-free workplace legislation. The Alberta Chambers of Commerce, the
Alberta Federation of Labour and the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees
joined several prominent health organizations to urge the Alberta government
to protect all workers from secondhand smoke on the job.
    "I can't think of any other issue that has drawn together this diverse
number of organizations," said Gil McGowan, president of the Alberta
Federation of Labour. "The support for smoke-free workplace protection crosses
many boundaries and this joint announcement sends a clear message to the
Alberta government: It's time to protect all Albertans from secondhand smoke
at work."
    "The Alberta Chambers of Commerce has become increasingly concerned about
the patchwork of municipal smoking bylaws across the province," said Ken
Kobly, CEO of the Alberta Chambers of Commerce. "We are asking the government
to protect all employees by enacting uniform legislation prohibiting smoking
in the workplace. This law would also level the playing field for businesses
in every Alberta community."
    "Our union has advocated for years to get smoking out of Alberta
workplaces," said Doug Knight, president of the Alberta Union of Provincial
Employees. "Thousands of working Albertans continue to be exposed to
secondhand smoke in their workplaces, and it will require a legislated ban on
workplace smoking to protect all workers from this major occupational hazard
and to avoid the associated lawsuits and Workers Compensation claims for not
doing so."
    "BOMA Edmonton supports a workplace smoking ban along with many other
organizations because of the health and safety advantages of such a ban," said
Percy Woods, executive vice-president of the Building Owners and Managers
Association of Edmonton. "BOMA has developed a building certification program
called Go Green that promotes improved indoor air quality. A provincial
smoking ban would significantly improve indoor air quality in office buildings
and would reduce maintenance and property damage associated with smoking."
    "There is no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke, especially for
those with lung disease, allergies and heart disease," said Gina Smith,
vice-president of The Lung Association. "Seven provinces and two territories
have passed laws to protect almost all workers from secondhand smoke in public
areas and workplaces. We encourage the Alberta government to take commensurate
action on this important public health issue."
    "Albertans do not have second class lungs and they deserve first class
protection from secondhand smoke," said Dr. Roger Hodkinson, honorary chairman
of Action on Smoking and Health. "Improving the quality of life of Albertans
is one of the top priorities of the Stelmach government," said Hodkinson. "The
Premier has mandated the health minister to improve the sustainability of the
healthcare system and to promote wellness. The government can advance all of
these commendable objectives by protecting all Albertans from secondhand smoke
at work."
    The Campaign for a Smoke-Free Alberta is mobilizing its members to
contact MLAs in support of smoke-free workplace protection. The Minister of
Health and Wellness, Dave Hancock, is expected to present a legislative
proposal to the government caucus in the near future.
    An Ipsos-Reid survey commissioned by the Canadian Cancer Society last
January revealed that four out of five Albertans support a province-wide ban
on smoking in all workplaces, including restaurants, bars and gaming
establishments. The survey found no difference in public support between rural
and urban Albertans.

                   Smoke-free workplaces for all Albertans.

                     It's about health. It's about time.

For further information:

For further information: Gil McGowan, AFL, at (780) 483-3021; Ken Kobly,
Alberta Chambers of Commerce, at (780) 975-1659; Dennis Malayko, AUPE, at
(780) 930-3362; Gina Smith, The Lung Association, at (780) 908-4291; Les
Hagen, Action on Smoking and Health, at (780) 919-5546

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Canadian Cancer Society (Alberta/NWT Division)

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