Smoking in Public Places Law: 10 Year Anniversary Offers Opportunity for Spokane Community to Once Again Rally Around Health

January 10, 2017

Hard to believe, but it has already been 10 years since Washington state’s Smoking in Public Places (SIPP) law was enacted. On Dec. 10, 2005, RCW 70.160 went into effect, making it illegal to smoke in all indoor public places and places of employment in statewide. The law helps protect the public and employees from exposure to secondhand smoke. Since its implementation, Washingtonians benefited significantly:

  • The American Lung Associations 2006 Air Quality monitoring system showed an 88 percent reduction in indoor air pollution[1]
  • The rate of bar and restaurant employee exposure  to secondhand smoke dropped from 29 percent in 2005 to about 3 percent in 2006[2]
  • Many people tried to quit as a result of the law and the Washington state Quitline experienced record call volume after the laws implementation[3] 

Considering the associated benefits to Spokane residents, this legislative milestone acted as an opportunity for the community to rally once again in support of its health. As it was enforced in the county, the law helped to protect individuals from secondhand smoke in public, but it did not protect them yet from the potential harm of vaping devices. Otherwise known as electronic cigarettes, vaping devices have increased in popularity, despite their ingredients being unregulated. Scientific evidence to support the safety of these devices remains limited, while a growing body of peer-reviewed research indicates that their byproduct aerosol contains heavy metals, ultra-fine particles, nicotine, and formaldehyde.  

As the agency responsible for enforcing SIPP in Spokane County, the health district proposed to its Board of Health members that they pass a resolution to include vaping under SIPP enforcement. This prohibited the use of vaping devices anywhere that smoking cigarettes is banned. The resolution effectively protects Spokanites from unwanted exposure to potentially harmful aerosols.

[1] ALAW Air Quality Monitoring Survey, 2006

[2] Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, Washington State Department of Health; 2005 and 2006

[3] Washington State Tobacco Quitline Data, Washington State Department of Health; January 2006