Last Updated: May 2020
Author: Asthma Program, Vermont Department of Health
The percent of adult nonsmokers exposed to second hand smoke steadily declined from 2008-2012. In 2008, 49% of Vermont nonsmokers were exposed to secondhand smoke, and in 2012 it had declined to 39%. The Healthy Vermonter goal is 30%. The downward trend was likely influenced by the statewide smoke-free laws prohibiting smoking in worksites, restaurants, bars and in 2014 in cars with children under age 8. Moreover, a number of towns have passed smoke-free parks, playgrounds, municipal buildings and beaches including Burlington for its popular pedestrian area of Church Street. Act 135, which went into effect in 2014, makes the smoke-free ban even more extensive as it prohibits smoking in rooms rented to guests in hotels, motels, and other lodging establishments.
However, since 2012 we see an increase in reported exposure to secondhand smoke. In 2016, 50% of Vermont adults reported being exposed to secondhand tobacco smoke. Any exposure to secondhand smoke is dangerous to health. Reports of increased exposure may be due to a higher level of awareness of tobacco smoke and risks of secondhand smoke exposure risks, and concentrations of smokers in fewer places. Vermonters report most exposure occurring in public places such as pedestrian walkways or around businesses and municipal buildings. As Vermont communities, supported by the efforts of tobacco grantees, Offices of Local Health and other stakeholders, put in even more protections to reduce exposure around commercial buildings and on the campuses of hospitals and colleges and in parks and on beaches, hazardous exposure to second hand smoke exposure should start again to decrease.
Vermont offers a suite of cessation services through its 802Quits which includes free Quitline, Quit in Person and Quit Online support. Approximately half of Vermonters try to quit every year; for most people several attempts build upon success, thereby reducing smoking in of the home, car and other places where exposure occurs.